If you are anything like me, the minute you read the title, a song comes to mind. This song plays in my head as I work in our small garden, along with a reel of memories of my Grandpa’s garden (which was almost his whole yard). I don’t have the love for it he did, nor the knack or patience required, but I have gleaned many lessons from our garden.
Before I get to the lessons, I must confess that I don’t really like outside. Or dirt. Or sweating. We live in an area that is difficult to get a variety of things to grow because we are at the edge of the desert. When we get rain, we tend to either get sprinkles or floods. The soil quality is poor and requires a lot of work. My other grandfather, who was raised in this area, said all the topsoil blew away in the Dust Bowl. His family grew cotton, which has been engineered to withstand the high winds and low rainfall in these parts. Regardless of how the conditions came to be, I don’t “enjoy” working the land but I do enjoy the lessons I learn in the process.
Good Soil. Due to the lack of topsoil, we start our garden with a bag or two of good soil, attempting to replenish the nutrients in the ground. In Matthew 13, Jesus gives a parable about the importance of good soil in reaping a good crop. As I read this passage, I imagine Jesus and the disciples walking along and he notices the sower, throwing seed around, and shares that not all soil is good soil. All the soil receives the same seed but not all seed produces an equal harvest.
Nurturing. Our garden space is in a somewhat protected corner of the yard unless the wind happens to get trapped there and splay out the plants or a battering hail storm comes. This space catches the runoff from the AC in addition to our watering. When we remember to water (or get four inches of rain in two hours), the garden is full and green. When we forget, growth is slower and more plants dry out. Water is essential to life.
Weeds. Even when we forget to water, weeds still pop up. In very little time, they can take over the garden, wrapping around the plants we want. Jesus also used this analogy in Matthew 13, where the owner of the field instructed the workers to wait until harvest to separate the weeds from the wheat. In this case, a weed was planted by an enemy at the same time as the wheat. The two plants must have looked similar until the wheat sprouted. Sometimes, bad things don’t look so bad at first. Along those same lines, as I looked at the disaster of overgrowth (both plants in need of pruning and weeds in need of pulling), I remember Matthew 5:45, which says, “For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” Everyone is offered the blessings of God, though not everyone accepts Him and His salvation.
Pain and a job well done. Working in the garden uses an entirely different set of muscles. I know, because I was terribly sore the day after my massive pruning and pulling. Did you know that the cause for this kind of pain is actually the muscles healing from being worked? Muscles actually tear when when we work them. The garden already needs more work, just as my muscles are back to normal, but the more I work the stronger I will be (and the healthier the garden will be). Joy still comes in the morning!