I am learning a lot about life as I garden. My family can tell you that, once I plant the seeds or transplant the starts, my backyard, which I shunned all winter, becomes a stopping point for me 4 or 5 times a day. (And that’s not even on days that I water!) There is something so gladdening about putting something in the ground and waiting and watching for it to come up. I feel anticipation. Joy. Even hope….that something will come out of the tiny, lifeless-looking things I settled in the soil.
So daily, since May, I have gone outside, hovered over our garden beds, thought and smiled. Some days I just go outside and sit and watch. The wind moves the Russian sage back and forth; the peony leaves, bereft of petals, sway; the robins, abundant this year, shoot across the backyard, barely skimming the fence tops. It is so peaceful. Even though, as I’ve mentioned before, my garden looks nothing like an English country garden (my idea of ultimate garden beauty), there is peace and grace there.
Last Thursday, I went out on my daily circuit. Pulled a few weeds; pushed the peony branches away from the squash; rearranged some tomato vines around the tomato cages. To my delight and surprise, this is what I discovered:
Now, I knew this was coming. I actually planted tomatoes expecting to harvest tomatoes! Yet, seeing the first actual fruit filled me with such joy and excitement.
And here is what I found today: the beginnings of a yellow squash, a zucchini, and our first sugar snap pea pod!
Last week, while reading Luke, I came across the parable of the mustard seed:
Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches (Luke 13:18-19).”
Those words and images have returned to my mind again and again. That parable expresses so beautifully the work of God in my life. Faith started in me on a tiny level, the size of a mustard seed, when I was a child. It grew slowly and steadily, seen and unseen. It experienced rain, drought, times of little or no growth, times of abundant growth, times of painful pruning….but it grew.
Why do I love my garden so much? There is a lot to love. I love being outside and working there, whether it is watering or weeding or pruning. I love watching the tiny cotyledons unfurl on the sprouts and seeing the first real leaves and flowers arrive. I love the peace of sitting quietly in the backyard and watching the vines and leaves blow in the wind. Naturally, we love eating its produce!
Now I can see something else to love: the illustration of the work of faith in my life and in the lives of those around me. We can’t always see faith’s growth or its fruit….but God is at work, sometimes in the dark; sometimes secretly and silently, sometimes visibly…but the fruit of faith is being produced. He is faithful!