(i’ve not written like this in quite some time and as i type the lines, i wonder whether i’ll make sense to anyone but myself…i wonder if i’ll sound as though the west has gotten the better of me…and, maybe i won’t, and maybe it has. either way, i feel a need to write the things that my heart has been pondering this past week…)
the tractor pulled up to the edge of the brown, barren ground and the farmer surveyed the stakes that marked the perimeter of our intended new garden plot. he slowly drove forward and lowered the tiller attachment he pulled into the ground and proceeded forward. the earth spun, and gave way under the moving blades to reveal rich, fertile soil.
i stood nearby and watched the blades churning along, watched the farmer drive forward along the lines we’d made. one swipe forward, and then he turned around and made pass after pass. the first sweep of the entire space was uneventful, but on the second round, his tractor abruptly shut off after hitting an old plowshare that had been buried for who-knows-how-many years. he got off the tractor seat, surveyed the culprit and tossed it to the side, no damage done. the farmer finished two more rounds of tilling up the space and we looked at it together and both proclaimed it very good. i wrote him a check for his services and thanked him, and he loaded up the equipment and went on his way. i went back into the house, but not before going over and picking up a handful of the dirt.
i knelt down to look closer, felt the cool, fresh earth in my hand, smelled the scent of fertile soil. and, as i did, i felt this overwhelming sense that this is something sacred.
i’ve always loved gardening, and even from a child i would involve myself as much as i was allowed to in the gardens. of course over the span of my life my feelings have varied from the youthful days of ‘why do we have to have this big of a garden with so many weeds’ to my current status of ‘let’s make the garden bigger this year’.
Monday as i surveyed this new plot and felt the rawness of the freshly turned soil, i sensed God’s presence and His purpose for gardening in new and deeper ways. i’ve long believed that gardening is clearly a God-ordained work, but maybe i’m now realizing it’s not just because he made man to tend to plants in the beginning of time. maybe i’m now realizing that the process of gardening is a process that deepens my knowledge of God’s holiness and sovereignty over me and my little life.
in gardening i’ve found so much fulfillment as i’ve watched plants grow from miniscule seeds to tall and flourishing plants. i’ve walked in the coolness of the morning as the plants were wet with dew and found refreshment and renewed vision for the daily task of watering and weed pulling.
but, as i’ve thought more about this sacredness of tending to a garden i’ve come to see that God can and does use this work in my life to meet needs aside from the physical. tending to a garden is a sacred privilege for me that comes with responsibility. privilege in that as i tend to the soil, as i watch the plants grow i get to be a part of something that has been around since the dawn of time. responsibility in that i cannot take for granted that God has me at a place in time where gardening is such a big part of my life and a true joy. privilege in that as i go through the process of working this hard work, i sense Him refining me and drawing me to His holiness.
as i’ve started things in little trays, as i’ve put seeds into the ground this year, i’ve felt not just joy and excitement. i’ve also felt sobered by the fact that i can do everything ‘right’ and by the books, but it is truly God who gives the increase. i don’t know what tomorrow may hold; the tornado season is just upon us and while i cannot live in fear of the unknown, i feel the weight of it. i’ll do all i can to ensure that the soil is well watered and fertilized, but i cannot control the bugs and the winds and the hail and the rains that may not come. but, as i tend to the earth and do my best to grow things, i will pray for God’s protection and increase, and trust Him in this sacred work.
truly these things apply to all of life; none of our days or our purposes should be taken for granted. whether your purpose is office work, or gardening, child-rearing or caring for the elderly, construction or sewing, these things are all very important and purposeful…none being more sacred than another. the sacredness comes not from trying to spiritualize every second of every day, but instead from recognizing that all of these things, all of these purposes, they are all in fact sacred moments and meanings and we must trust Him to make us holy through the process.
what if we all pressed on to find the ‘sacred soil’ God is giving us to work…