“You’re way too busy to do this. Seriously. Just skip it this year,” my husband said. I knew he was right. But I also knew I would do it anyway.
A few days later, I stood in the back yard, wearing my old blue jeans with holes in the knees and a tatty, army green t-shirt that should probably be in the trash, but it’s so worn and soft that I can’t get rid of it. I paused to look at the small plot of barren land before me. Even with its parched, pale brown dirt that appeared to hold little promise of producing anything worthwhile and my schedule that was already jam packed, I couldn’t resist. This plot of earth was a part of me, largely because it taught me some of the most important things I need to know about life.
When Andrew and I were newlyweds, I couldn’t wait to plant my first vegetable garden. I’m not sure why I was drawn to it, but nothing could stop me. We didn’t have much yard space so I settled for an eight foot long triangle of soil that separated our driveway from our next door neighbor’s; the space was a miniature fork in the road as one narrow lane became two. From that first time, I loved putting my hands in the cool dirt, working it and carefully tucking my babies into their spring bed. When the first tomato appeared early that summer, I was hooked. Two-and-a-half decades later, I still am.
Through those years, I’ve learned that my vegetable garden is more than just a place of planting and reaping. It gives me a connection to the earth that yields deep meaning in my life. Other than being pregnant, it’s the only way I know that I can join hands with God to create something that lives. And through the years, each step of this joint venture has become an earthen parallel to life itself.
We all face dry, empty, barren times that we are convinced could never yield anything good. But the garden reminds us that if we are willing to rework and fertilize, change happens beneath the surface in ways we can’t yet know or see. It shows us that planting something new and tending to it with water, fertilizer and pruning will transformbarren into bountiful. It teaches us this doesn’t happen overnight and we must be patient and trust that good things are coming. Of course, the transformation always requires hard work and getting dirty. It can feel daunting at the beginning and demands we put in time, pay attention and do everything we can to protect it against outside forces. When we do these things, something good sprouts from the impossible. It’s the same for a marriage, a friendship, a family relationship, for life.
So the annual ritual begins again, planting, sowing and always there is learning in the garden of life.