Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Garden

            We are still in the deep, deep freeze of this really long winter.  But now is the time when I start to dream about and plan my garden.  And the next however many posts will be about my garden.  About the things that I have tried that have worked for me and that haven’t worked for me.  And about the lessons that I have learned that have touched my soul and taught me about life and God. 

            For me, gardening is about slowing down, taking my time, inhaling the moment, learning to put the extra effort in, and learning to wait for the rewards.  It also reminds me that life doesn’t always happen according to my plans.  Things will come up that confuse me (tomato plants dying overnight for no obvious reason), that make me angry (tiny bugs eating my asparagus all summer), that make me feel helpless (Japanese beetles destroying my Queen Mary rose no matter how many I pick off every day), and that make me want to throw in the towel (deer, bunnies, and squirrels eating everything they can get to).
            And so gardening is also about trial and error.  You have to be willing to be flexible.  You have to learn to love the process, the journey, instead of placing all your hopes and sights on the end product.  Because it hardly ever goes as planned.  But there are lessons to learn for “next time” when it didn’t work out this time.  There is beauty in the unpredictable.  There are other paths to try when one doesn’t work.
            And there are so many delights that make it worth fighting through the hard times and the problems.  Delicate-looking pink cosmos floating in a sea of green, wrapping around the birdhouse.  Huge sunflower heads that greet me from a block away as I finish my walk.  The smell of mint wafting up to greet me when I brush past it.  The incomparable smell of old-fashioned roses that last only a day when I cut them and bring them in the house, but it was worth it.  The tomatoes that I get to eat fresh off the vine (until I am so sick of them that I don’t want to look at another one till next year), and that I also get to dehydrate to use in soups and stews all winter. 
            These are what keep me fighting through the hard times.  These blessings and delights are what I have to seek out and cling to when I want to scream that the deer won’t stop eating my tulips and beans and chard. 
            It’s not that different with life.  The older I get, the more I realize that it’s all about the journey.  It’s about continuing on, even when you don’t feel like it.  And it’s about learning to enjoy the process of growth.  If all we do is focus on getting the next answer or waiting for the next door to open or checking the next “spiritual task” off of our Spiritual To Do list, we will miss out on the here-and-now.  On the joy of just being.    
            Unfortunately, we are a microwave society, a “get it done now because time is money” society.  And I think many of us are aching to simplify, to bring it all back to what matters, and to learn to really live in the moment.  Life is flying past us and we don’t even remember to take a breath.   
            When you garden, remember that it’s not really about achieving the perfect end product.  It’s about going with the flow, being flexible, learning from your mistakes, and delighting in the surprises and the rewards.  And it’s about praising the Creator, about discovering and appreciating His creativity and goodness.
            And in life, remember that it’s also all about the journey and not the destination.  Of course, it really is all about eternity, but I am talking here about really living the life we have now.  About learning from our mistakes.  And learning to find God more, to walk closer with Him, and to fall more deeply in love with Him and let Him love us more.  About grabbing onto the blessings of the moment and finding things to praise God for, even in the midst of pain and heartache and problems.  Because this is what will carry us through life.  It’s what will help us keep our faith intact.  It’s what will soothe our souls.  And it’s what will help our hearts keep singing, no matter the circumstances.