A few years ago, I decided to learn to grow things.
I sat in this free “back yard gardening class” and listened to scientists from the University of Washington discuss the microbiology of soil. Who Knew!
It turns out soil is actually quite alive and full of all sorts of crawling, microscopic organisms.
Honestly, I was fascinated.
I learned about soil erosion and native plants and French drains and mini-ecosystems and how to turn your small yard into a gorgeous vegetable garden.
I was hooked! I bought so many plants. You don’t even know…
We got six little chickie ladies and named them ridiculous names like Petunia and Olive and Carl. And I learned to dig my fingers deep into the earth.
I loved every second of it. And I transplanted and rearranged and layered and stuffed in flowers and blueberries and tulip bulbs and lavender. It didn’t matter that my knees got dirty, or that I ruined several items of clothing, or that I got the very worst tan lines.
And I decided pretty quickly that gardening is the best metaphor for life that there is.
You have to dig in to pull up the weeds. You have to work really hard to plant something new and then work even harder to keep it alive. And there will always always always be more weeds than you ever imagined but the best way to get rid of them is persistently, steadfastly, day by day.
The morning sun and the evening light make the best times for gardening. Morning because everything is fresh and dew-covered and probably missed you all night long…so it grew and grew for you as best it could through the dark. Evening because it is the restful-doing at the end of all the being.
You might stick a bulb into the dark earth and you won’t see it bloom for months. Early spring flowers, like tulips and daffodils and blue bells thrive in the cold, in-betweenness of winter turning to spring. The frost doesn’t bother them. Even when you cut them you can add ice cubes to the vase, and plop them in one at a time. Tulips live longer that way.
And every section of my yard I worked in brought me joy. And I often found myself outside, hot coffee in hand, cold cement sidewalk under my toes, just looking. And that was the first time I ever understood why God created for a whole day and then stood back to look at it. That always confused me. But then, all at once, I understood: he was finding joy in the beauty of creating.
And then his great Father’s Heart created us. And that never really made sense to me either, until I had babies of my own and felt the joy of life inside my body.
He creates with joy and leaves a trail of wonder behind, a trail that leads us right up to the doors of heaven.
He is steadfast. And he reminds us in the fading and growing.
Nothing blooms forever. Seasons come and go but the word of our Savior…it never changes. Tulips bloom and fade and give way to fields of new flowers, and summer always comes with its plenty and its bright light and the sticky air that makes you long for frost.
And down on my knees…that is where I learned about the stillness of obedience: one small obedient action at a time we transform. Like a garden of flower beds…each bed thrives in its own way. And you learn where to water more and where to let the Great Gardener do his growing. You learn where to prune and you learn that some plants aren’t really meant to be pruned at all…like how love isn’t meant to get smaller ever but only larger.
And then, at the end of a glorious spring and summer you stand back and soak in the beauty. You lay to rest what needs to be. And you cover the roots of the fragile plants. You prune. A lot. And you prep the soil for winter and let all the rain do it’s work to wash away the dead things and guide all the good things deep down to the roots.
Healthy roots make for a healthy plant.