Gardens are like family: they demand attention, they can get out of hand real quick, yet they feed you in ways nothing else can. For all of my aches & pains, my dislike of getting muddy, and my squeamish attitude about bugs that live in colonies, I am willing, year after year, to start the garden over again. This year is no exception. Considering the work involved and the many family needs demanding my attention, I had to think long and hard about this particular vocation before I even got started. Is gardening really worth my time and effort? After all, I could buy almost everything I want at the grocery store. But in the end, I was converted toward the wholesome reality of a family garden by a few simple but profound truths. Here are some that come readily to mind:
#1 A garden draws me into the natural world far from technology. With all of society’s advancements – it is good to get away from the computer screen & worldly concerns and reacquaint myself with the good earth. Plants and animals have been here a lot longer than our human-made tools & toys – and they still have something to say to me – if only I dare to listen.
#2 Gardens demand a lot as well as give a lot. They require consistent effort. They force a person into a serious commitment of time, sweat, and occasional tears. If I don’t take care, weeds take over. If I don’t protect it, the garden will die. This simple reality reminds me of a basic truth in every important relationship: no love, no stewardship, no fruit…
#3 I know what goes into my garden, so I know what goes into me. This may seem paranoid but in a world of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics for animals, and various other unknowns, I like to know what feeds the animals and plants which feed me. Cancer has struck too close to home to assume that every chemical remedy is a good one.
#4 There is some correlation to God as Creator and myself as gardener. When I plant a seed, I know it is His seed, I know He forms and shapes the life that comes from the seed, and I know that all the growing universe is His – but in my small world I can cultivate a small part of it, making it orderly, beautiful and fruitful. When faced with international disasters, national worries, and personal struggles, it is no small comfort to enjoy God’s life in a garden – gardening grace – I call it. And so it is.
#5 My final reason is purely mercenary. I enjoy knowing that I have stocked some food away for a rainy, stormy or snowy day. I never know what the future will bring. Having a few jars of home made jam, pickles or salsa, some onions & herbs hanging in the kitchen, some frozen peppers, corn, squash, and pumpkin stocked in the freezer, make my life a little more comfortable. Despite my aching back, my heart is at ease knowing my little garden is there, waiting for me in the morning.