Boy did I work my tail off on Saturday. Whewwww. Butt it is so going to be worth all the effort. I spent part of my day helping my MOM (and others) get our garden ready for planting. Let me tell you it is true many hands make the work easier. Add in four paws and it's a breeze. That made me think... You know who was the original gardener? I believe it was (and is) God and Jesus. I know JC talk about gardening in Matthew 13:1-23. So as I helped out tilling, weeding, burning the ditch and all those things that need to take place before a single seed goes into the ground I talked to MOM about gardening and how I see it. Come along with me as we prepare the garden.
|[Clearing out the dead of Winter]|
Dedicated gardeners have anticipated this season since December and January when the seed catalogs started to arrive. There are the perennial garden catalogs, the start-from-seed catalogs, and the organic-everything catalogs. Ever notice the pictures in these plant and seed catalogs? They're astounding. Huge veggies, amazing fruits.
|[Tilling in organic stuffs]|
Then there's the lure of more exotic fruits and veggies that promise bumper crops, perfect nutrition, healthy plants and beautiful colors .
|[That's my pal Walter hauling off the weeds]|
No matter how splashy or no-nonsense the seed catalogs that arrive in the middle of the cold, dark winter months, all of them are exercises in faith. It's the gardener's "green hope." And it takes a lot of faith, a lot of green hope, to believe that the lush, fruit-producing plant you've read about is contained in the tiny dry packet of seeds you hold in your hand once the catalog fills your seed order.
|[Good job MOM, only 50 more passes]|
Some seeds are so tiny it's like sowing dust mites. Some flower seeds look like they have the wherewithal to produce something – nasturtiums have a kind of earthy, gnarly look to them. How could anything as hardy and takeover as chamomile or lavender spring from such microscopic beginnings?
But the truth is: all it takes is good soil, warm sun, refreshing water, time... and these dry, puny seeds burst forth with life. Gardeners put their hopes in dead-looking seeds. Gardeners invest sweat equity in nurturing and cultivating specks of dust. Gardeners put up with weeds, insects, evil-sounding rusts and smuts, and weather that's too cold, too hot, too dry, or too wet.
|[Right behind you MOM. Let me know if ya need a break. My paws are ready for digging.]|
Why? Because gardeners get addicted to setting life free. Gardening is the world's oldest profession for a reason. (See Genesis 1 and 2.) Gardeners can't make seeds. Gardeners can't control the weather. Gardeners can't tell which seeds are viable and which are duds. But gardeners can assist in creation's birthing process, gardeners can midwife beauty, and gardeners can guide and nurture the life that lurks within seeds into springing forth in bloom.
|[Hey Justin, you are doing a great job! I wonder if anyone brought hotdogs for roasting.]|
Gardeners can participate in setting life free. There's all this life around us, lying dormant, waiting for release. There's a force greater than me, greater than you, greater than all of us put together. This life-force is all around you, waiting to be released. Untapped life is just waiting for its gardeners. God is the Original Gardener – releasing life onto this bluegreen earth. Is it any wonder that God then created Adam and Eve to be gardeners so they could continue the life-releasing cycle?
|[Hey MOM we GOTTA get one of these flame throwing thingys.]|
In Matthew 13:1-23 Jesus reveals that he's also a gardener – a sower casting seeds of his word across the face of the land. Even as God turned a barren planet into a Garden of Eden, Jesus started his cultivation efforts on the hardest clay, the driest desert, the starkest wilderness, and created a new Garden of Eden – a landscape of salvation and redemption for all creation.
|[That's my friend Kristin. She helps a brother dog out by giving me some cool water. Working in the garden makes dog mighty thirsty.]|
In that parable of the sower, Jesus describes the realities that face all who carry on cultivation efforts of their own. We can sow. But whether the seed germinates, grows to maturity, produces fruit, and results in a harvest – all that is dependent upon the quality of the ground it falls upon, on the receptivity of the soil.
In Jesus' first example, the seed falls upon the hardened path. The rich word, filled with promise of new life, never even gets into the soil. It lies neglected on the path, and is quickly eaten up by hungry birds. The beaten path is not a very fertile place. It's worn smooth and hard by countless feet. For the Word of Life to germinate, it needs the fertile soil that lies deep and rich off the well-trodden trail, away from the trials and temptations of the common path.
|[For some reason I want marshmallows.]|
Shallow, rocky soil and thorn-infested ground allow the seeds to germinate. But they don't offer enough depth, water retention or root room for the fledgling plants to do much more than sprout out and then wither away. Gardeners don't garden just to get seeds to sprout. The whole point of gardening is to end up with a harvest. The fruits, the veggies, the bursting blooms of colorful flowers – these are the reasons gardeners sow in the first place. Jesus, the sower in the parable, likewise sows to reap.
|[JENNI quick put out that hot spot! I think I would have made a great fire truck dog.]|
Only those seeds that find their way into deep fertile soil, only those seeds whose roots spread out and stalks grow tall towards the sun, will enjoy a harvest, a yield beyond the original amount of seed first sown. Getting the seed into the ground is the hardest part of farming. But seed-sowers know there's a lot more necessary if any looked-for-harvest is ever to be expected.
|[Good job MOM. We're almost done, then we can kick back and relax for a bit.]|
Part of the wonderment of sowing seeds, of setting life free, is its beautiful mystery. The final amount harvested is ultimately out of the hands of the sower. Our task it to sow. God's task is to reap. We cannot compare our harvests or our results with others and claim for ourselves more or less success. But there must be fruit to feed a hungry world. And in a marvelous circularity of spirituality, the ultimate in fruit-bearing is seed-sowing.
|[This is the fruit of our labor for the day. Time spent together in God's glorious and beautiful world.]|
Nobel-Prize winning Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore says this, "A leaf becomes a flower when it loves. A flower becomes a fruit when it worships. The words of the hymn, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee say it best: "Hearts Unfold Like Flowers Before Thee." I say, "Set life free. Sow some seeds. And in so doing, bear much fruit.Blessings,