Yesterday, I got to do something that I’d been looking forward to.
I had, for weeks, since re-joining my church, wanted to get busy in our community garden. It is a really great project. Half of the garden is planted and tended by the local Haitian community for their own use. Half is divided up into patches for members to use.
My priest, Jan, is super busy, and needed help with her garden patch. Life got in the way, then weather, but finally, yesterday, I got the opportunity to get out there in the cool weather, just right for weeding.
It had been a rough weekend for me, so I was hoping weeding would be therapuetic as well as helpful for Jan. I first started by standing, and pulling weeds that were tall as me, some taller, but then I found that it was easier to sit and pull the roots from the ground. Ultimately, I found tomatoes!! Lots of them. Towards the end of the time, I also found potatoes that had been forgotten from the year before and grew new plants this year.
As I worked, wresting tough weeds from the ground, I also prayed. I knew that a lot of conversation with God was going to be the only way to get through a weekend of panic attacks, something that occasionally happens to me. My priority was to be totally free of them by the time Monday and work rolled around.
As I worked, God calmed my spirit, and that evening, after prayer online with a friend from Scotland, the panic attacks were no more. I was able to reason through how I had made non-existent problems into huge mountains. But that reasoning started in the garden.
Like I said, some of the weeds were taller than me. To look at them, it could be quite daunting. However, most of the weeds easily pulled up. The few which didn’t took losening of actual roots at the base of the plant, but ultimately they came up too.
Applications…many. No matter what the problem before us, how we perceive it can be everything. If I had looked at the garden patch, let myself be overwhelmed, and walked away, it would have still been in the condition it was when I started. But starting somewhere, and doing something got the work done.
Starting somewhere…..I started at the edge of the patch and worked inward. The ‘type A’ in me wanted to surprise Jan by getting the whole thing done by the time she and Ken got back from Northern Kentucky, but ultimately common sense and a sore back argued louder. With any project or endeavor…starting is the first thing…and reasonable goals follow. I might have looked at my ‘weed by weed’ goal as unrealistic, and quit. However, weed by weed was how progress was made.
I was reminded of the parable of the wheat and tares as I tended the ground. Sometimes, when I see what I perceive to be injustice, I want God to rush in, Old Testament style and really let the ‘bad guys’ have it. Not wait for karma to catch up…I want justification then. And sometimes God does work that way. But most times, I think God works through situations and makes the involved parties take deep breaths. Make peace if they can. Maybe even have both realise that they both contributed to the wrong. In some cases, he lets evil and good grow alongside each other for a season. And ultimately, who am I to judge?
I also considered how beautifully God thought of everything in creation. I am not sure if you (reader) believe in a literal 7 day creation or the more extensive one that science points to, or something in between. I tend to go with the thought that God is God, and however he did it, I’m okay with it. Especially the amazing variety of things he created. Like tomatoes that not only feed me and my work friends with whom I shared today, but also the beetles that were feeding on the over-ripe vegetables. Then you look at the potatoes…forgotten last year, decomposing into the earth, and becoming their own seeds. Amazing. Really, God thinks of everything. And if he thinks of simple things like that, then how difficult are my problems?
Lastly (but not the last of the insights given) there is a time to stop. I wanted to surprise Jan and Ken with a perfectly weeded garden. Wanted to. But three hours into it, my body said “Okay, time to head home.” Not so long ago, I would have driven myself well past exhaustion to finish some unrealistic goal I’d set. Sunday, I was able to stand, up, stretch, gather the veggies I’d harvested, put Jan and Ken’s portion on the table, and put the rest in my car. There is time to start a project, but there is also time to end projects. And both times are blessed.
Today, a new lesson—gardening is great exercise!!! I have muscles hurting today that I don’t think I knew that I had…and a bit of a sunburn. But you know, I feel blessed. Getting busy in God’s creation had a number of benefits. It gave my hands something to do, and gave me a chance to open my heart to the creator.
Mostly, it made me realise that even as God had perfectly planned everything growing in the garden, right down to the weeds, so he also had everything perfectly planned for me. No need to make up self-induced nightmares of the future. No need to worry about things that I have no control of. Plenty of reason to rejoice to a God who is definitely and ultimately in control.