“I can’t believe how huge these spinach fields are,” my roommate from Chicago observed on our drive through Iowa.
“Spinach fields?” my other roommate, from Iowa, glanced back from the passengers seat and looked at her.
“Yeah, there’s so much spinach everywhere!” my Chicagoan roommate continued.
The two Iowans in the car erupted in laughter. She and I did not know why.
“It’s soybeans! Not spinach. Spinach doesn’t grow in fields like this!” they explained, breathless from laughing.
Soybeans are things most Iowans understand. And I love them for it. As someone who grew up in the suburbs of big cities (Minneapolis and Austin), my agricultural knowledge is limited to comments I’ve heard and a few facts from books. Many of the Iowans I met during college grew up on or near farms and learned about the land experientially and from relatives.
The beautiful mural outside of Dulcinea.
Iowa City holds a dear place in my life. I arrived there when I was eighteen and left when I was twenty-five. It was the place where I found my love of words. The place where I struggled to integrate my creative passions–poetry and dance especially–with my faith. The place where I poured into others yet rarely knew how to let someone pour into me. The place where I floundered to know myself. Yet it was also the place where God always found me and brought me back to Himself. It was a place where I grew to depend on the Lord more than any earthly thing. I am grateful God brought me to Iowa City. I am grateful for the ballet classes and the writing workshops. The years as a writing tutor, a poetry editor, and a person learning how to be a friend. I am grateful for the years God gave me to work at church and pour into other women as a mentor and counselor.
A couple weekends ago, we drove down to Iowa City since it had been three years since I’ve visited. It’s both strange and grounding to return to a place after so much change has happened in my life: I’m married, have a son, own a house, and enjoy a calling as a stay-at-home mom who tries to write when my baby sleeps. Continue reading