Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hops and Hopes

Every new journey we embark upon takes risk and is filled with uncertainty. If we forbid to face risk head on we lose ourselves to the fear of the unknown and the uncontrollable. We cease to feel. We cease to truly live. 

Around the same time I began writing this blog (April 2014), Mark began planning for the creation of a Hop Yard. I have to admit I was skeptical. My life is filled with enough uncertainty as is. The last thing I wanted was to add another element of risk. There's so much that could wrong. Most of all, however, this was completely uncharted territory for us. What if nothing grew? What if a storm wiped out all that hard work? What if we failed? But, I saw in Mark's eyes the power of this new endeavor. So, I stifled my engulfing uncertainty and tried my best to hide my fears; setting out on this new adventure. I smiled and listened, trying my best to be supportive. But, in my stomach there was a knot. A knot born of the fear associated with risk and uncertainty I knew all too well. 

Last summer was spent making this new adventure a reality. Mark immersed himself into the world of Hops: drinking in as much knowledge as he possibly could, both literally and figuratively. So, 150 hops rhizomes, a plot of land on the home farm, poles that stretched to the sky, and twine to guide each promising vine, a Hop Yard was born. The first year's focus was on establishing the yard and the root systems. Well, the first season was complete and successful. There were handfuls of beautiful and delicate green hop cones and a calming fragrance that would be hard to forget. I could put my worries away for the off-season. 

But then my own viscous monster of uncertainty awoke with a vengeance last Fall and Winter: Cystic Fibrosis. Reminding me of the realities and journey of risks that are my own life, forcing me to lock myself away from the world and any additional risks that could complicate things even more. A journey of risks that I willingly never wanted or asked to embark upon, but instead was given to endure and make the best of. It's true, CF has made me daring yet cautious. It's forced me to live for today and do my best not to fear the tomorrow. So, why do I not embrace the idea of everyone doing the same? 

A New Season
As the weather grew warmer this Spring, Mark's plans for the Hop Yard also began to bloom. There was that knot again in my stomach. Again, he devoured every book, article, studying the delicate science behind it all. He even took off on a few road trips for hop conferences. Ask any of our friends, there was a visible glimmer of excitement when he'd be asked about the hops. 

The ground thawed and he anxiously awaited any signs life bursting from beneath the ground. In his excitement for the coming growing season he ordered more plants to increase the size of the yard. Again, I suppressed my worries of embarking down this risky path. As the season of new life erupted, and the monster of CF loosened its deadly grip from around us, I began to boldly embrace the risks that surround our lives; the things that make us happy and make us feel most alive. 

This past weekend, as some dear friends, Mark and I made a trip to see the hops, my fears and unsettled anxieties were quieted by the shear beauty and magnificence of each towering hop. What filled me most with contented peace was seeing how much happiness filled Mark. To see that smile I hadn't seen in so long. To see that excitement in his eyes. Was the path always smooth this growing season? By no means, but I grew, Mark grew, and he created something incredible.  There was a great hope within those hops. 

The Hop Yard isn't just a place to grow hops. It signifies a lot more. It gave Mark a place to escape to when the unpredictable CF seemed too much to bear. It helped give him hope in the future. It was alive, both in spirit and in form. Wherever there was twine to climb, the hops raced skyward, never once looking back towards the ground. They just continued to climb upwards towards the stars no matter the risks around them, sharing beautiful delicate green cones as beacons of promise and hope. This past weekend was the first harvest. I have to say my heart was a bit heavy to see the vines cut down. Most of all, however, I was so very proud. Proud of both of us. Taking a life filled with imminent risk, facing it head on, and being grateful for every part of our journey: never giving into the fear of embarking on a path weaved together by the unknown.

The growing season is coming to an end, but I am taking much more away than I ever imagined from this season. I am thankful for those beautiful delicate hops and what they represent not only in Mark's life but my own. As I embark on my own new journey my steps are hesitant and filled with an uncertain fragility, yet I know in my heart that fulfillment of the journey far outweighs the risk. The twine is there, I simply need to start the climb towards the stars. Love to you all.

Are fears of uncertainty keeping you from truly living?