veggie garden God lessons

Yesterday I walked out with my muddy shoes to dig the last of the potatoes and realized. . . it’s over.  The brown dried plants and barren mud seemed extra quiet, like a concert yard littered cans after the booming music clears and dancing bodies have exited en masse.  One lone pumpkin is all that’s left, quietly pointing to the turn of the season.  I can’t help feeling like one of my kids just went off to college.
There has been a party out here this summer–a planting, weeding, weeding some more, growing and harvesting party.  On a practical level our garden nourished our tummies; we canned and ate fresh meals and gave extras away to neighbors, but this garden and it’s process has nourished me in a deeper way as well, teaching me some lessons about life and faith.
Memory 1:  Weed-pocalypse
My first day of gardening this summer consisted of rolling up the remnants of last summer’s weed patch. The left-overs had created a woven blanket of tan scoundrels that were not only filled with dust, but were also anchored to the cemented ground at nearly every inch.  Clearing the space had me sweating and dirty.  New Baby + No Knowledge about Gardening + Naive Attempt to Garden Last Summer = Weeded Mess.  I hated this day.  This day I vowed never to garden again.  It was decided, gardening was no fun and too much work.
Memory 2: Weeding. . . weeding. . . and weeding some more.
I think we should change its name from gardening to weeding.  The planting and the harvesting really come and go quickly in relation to the maintenance that gets things to the harvest stage and creates a space for the new life to grow.  Weeds come fast and without warning.  Setting the rows right, and getting those early weeds made for a more enjoyable late summer as the weeds seem to get the hint after numerous reminders.  It was funny how each time I picked up the hoe to demolish some weeds, I would remember the weed-pocalypse day.  Thinking back to what can happen if I let this get out of control, helped me stay motivated.

Lesson 1:  The journey of faith can leave us feeling sweaty and dirty, and mad–just mad at what we’re having to do or go through, or what we’re seeing others go through.  It’s hard to see how God might be giving us a memory of difficulty, an experience of death and resurrection, that we’re going to need later–later it might just be our gasoline. (This lesson is best learned in retrospect and won’t be taken well when said to those who are currently all sweaty and dirty with life.)  

Memory 3: Harvest Party
Our yummies came in waves as each plant set on and ripened in its own time.  I was almost giddy squatting there filling my bucket–surprised that things actually grew.  With each new bean pod, I felt like I won some lottery.  It doesn’t make sense that tomato plants can grow taller than me that came from a little seed.  If that ever ceases to amaze me, you have permission to slap me in the face.  I know there’s science to explain the cell development, but the sheer volume of the thing that can grow from seed + dirt + sun is mind-boggling.  Creation is crazy.  CRAZY!  “Helper” is a relative term when it’s used to describe a toddler at garden harvest time.  My favorite memory about harvest was how my munchkin would shadow me down the rows, picking her own vegetables, leaving a little trail of half-munched-on goodies.  When we harvested carrots, she got so dirty and muddy–and giggly, that I just couldn’t help grinning.  On those summer evenings when Charli really did earn her bath–when the water ran brown–I couldn’t help thinking that today we lived well.  Sometimes to clean up we gotta get dirty.  To feel the goodness of a shower, we need to get down into the muck.

Lesson 2: The harvest of faith will surprise us.  Sometimes the biggest yields came from the ugliest plants (and vice versa).  My one pumpkin grew from a huge vine that spread the length of the entire garden, and yet some of the simplest plants created fruits that were so heavy they weighed down the branches themselves. We might think that the biggest–the strongest–will be the ones who are really sewing the seeds of what Jesus was talking about.  In the end it might be the quiet ones who really surprise us.  It might be the whispered life lived in such a grace-filled way that leaves the biggest ripples going out, the life lived so far outside itself that the harvest is bigger than the branches can hold.  

Lesson 3: Ultimately it’s not me.  I can add in the right ingredients–the plants, the watering, the weeding, but I can’t–no matter what I do–make a tomato grow.  And that takes the pressure off.  That’s the grace we live in each day.  God’s got it.  But it’s pretty awesome when we get to come along for the ride.

I am not a fan of taking “selfie” photos, but had to show just how tall these tomatoes grew!

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