I love a good garden.
There’s something so rewarding about preparing the soil, digging through rich dirt, placing seeds and/or young plants in the earth, watering and nurturing tender shoots, and then harvesting the result. It’s simple, yet profound. It’s organic and healthy. It brings us closer to nature and puts food on the table.
It’s an activity we do as a family – outdoors, unplugged, working together in a task as old as mankind. Our children love to dig around in the dirt, watching plants that they’ve put in the ground and watered with their own hands grow. They eat the produce with enthusiasm, willing to try all of it because they’re invested in its existence on a personal level.
Please don’t be misled by my enthusiasm. I am by no means a seasoned gardener, and not particularly great at the live-off-the-land lifestyle. If you want an authentic picture painted, here’s a glimpse of the conversation my husband and I had before we planted our fall garden last week.
We were pushing our luck as far as timing, so weren’t sure if we’d pull it off. As is often the case, we came in right under the wire. Gregg called his dad (who actually is a master gardener) to check on which plants, if any, we could still grow successfully.
Gregg: I talked to Dad about getting a fall garden in. He said that we’re still in time to plant broad leafs.
Me: That’s great! Um, so is that a type of lettuce?
Pause….during which he blinked at me in silence for about 30 seconds.
Gregg: Broad leaf is the category of plants. Like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, arugula….
Me (big smile): Ok, then! Let’s do those.
At least I’m animated, right?
We cleared and prepped our raised beds, pulling out old plants and weeds, turning soil and adding fertilizer before we watered it down. We carefully removed plants from the plats and containers, spacing them out in neat rows. We dug holes for each plant, gauging which kind needed more or less depth, and then put additional fertilizer in the bottom of the depressions to ensure proper seedling nutrition. Each kiddo had a task, a tangible part to play, and they’ll remember that as the grow-harvest-enjoy cycle takes place.
Part of my devotional this week was in Matthew chapter 13 – the parable of the four soils. In this story, Jesus speaks of a farmer scattering his seed. The seed falls in four distinct places: along the path, in rocky places, among thorns, and in good soil. The seeds on the road get gobbled up by birds. The seeds in shallow soil and rocks, while it grew quickly, also dies quickly without a good root system. The seeds in the thorns grow initially, but its plants are soon choked. Lastly, the seeds that land in good soil make their appearance. They flourish, producing a crop that exceeds what was sown.
Jesus patiently explains to his disciples the analogy He’s presenting, and the lesson He wants them to learn from it. He points out the importance of preparing our hearts to receive God’s Word, and taking the time to understand His Truths. He clearly delineates the importance of nurturing our souls through knowledge of Father’s teachings and growth of our relationship with Him.
I love this parable because it’s such a clear visual. There’s no guesswork to it. And as we worked in our little garden the other afternoon, my mind drifted over to it easily. I watched my children dig and fertilize and plant and water their respective areas, and I was inspired anew. As their parents, it is imperative that we cultivate their souls, grow their understanding, and set their roots in the richest, most precious soil of all. We are charged with the tender care of their beautiful selves. We must be determined to dig deep and set them firmly in the proper foundation, so that when the time comes, they are ensconced and entrenched in such a way that they are not shaken by the winds, or rain, or scorching sun. They continue to grow, no matter what the world may throw at them, and they bear fruit throughout their lives.
This is my greatest hope for my children. All good things stem from here.
And as we continue the tradition of our home gardening together, I hope it brings the parable to the forefront of their minds as well. I hope that as they mature and change, advancing through life’s stages, they look back at this time and are inspired anew….to deepen their roots, to enrich their soil, to grow and blossom, and to sow good seed in the lives they touch.
That, I believe, will bring incredible things to the table.
After all, who doesn’t long for great fruit?
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