I enjoy gardening. In fact, I enjoy it enough that for the past several years prior to moving back home to the Wake-Harnett County area, I lived on an old farm that Joanie and I were restoring along with some other folks from the Charlotte area. We gardened mostly by hand – no big equipment – and mostly using permaculture principles – so no fertilizer, no eletric irrigation, no pesticides…you get the idea.
Gardening in this way, we had to pay more attention to bugs and find natural ways of warding them off, such as flowers and vermiculture and manure sprays. We had to pay more attention to rainfall and find ways to collect rainwater, limit runoff, and use the contour of the land to harvest water. We learned about using cover crops, composting, chicken manure and organic soil amendments to improve the long-term quality of the soil. We learned about cutting swales into the contour of the field to slow runoff allowing more rain to saturate the ground. We even collected water in trenches for natural irrigation. We did a lot of watering using an old 250 gallon water tank, hoses and good old fashioned gravity. We learned about crop diversification to prevent the mass onset of bugs. We even hung tin pans on stakes that blew in the wind to ward off the deer!
And in spite of all our work, our garden had limited success. Now granted, our techniques were designed not with the current growing season in mind, but instead with the next 5-10 years of growing seasons in mind. Early on, smaller returns are expected. Yet our efforts taught me several lessons.
First and foremost, we learned about hard work and patience! Second, that it really takes a village to garden naturally! We could have never done it by ourselves. In fact, we had mission teams help out and another family that did a ton of work. Third, you cannot plan for or prevent every threat to your garden. You can try…and inevitably, the weather or rain or bugs will not cooperate! Fourth, you also cannot predict or foresee some of the greats gifts of a garden: those volunteers that come up because of your compost or the most delicious, pesticide free tomato you have ever tasted.
Most importantly, we learned that so much of gardening naturally – like our ancestors used to do before industrialization and the modernization of agribusiness – depends on forces beyond one’s self. Paul is right: One person plants, another waters, but God gives growth.
Together, all these lessons confirm for me the power of Paul’s message to the Corinthians.
The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose… For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field… – 1 Corinthians 3:8-9
When we work as God’s servants, we do have a common purpose. That purpose is written throughout the books of our sacred scripture. That purpose is God’s purpose. A purpose best described by words like love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and salvation. And when we work together we become God’s abundant field, teeming with fruit and vegetables that nourish the world around us.
I wonder. What is it in God’s garden that you are tending this week? What seeds are you planting? Who is helping you water them? What bugs are creeping in despite your best efforts at prevention? And can you see the growth that God is providing? Can you see it, even if it is not the growth you expected?
We have a few folks who are offering space, time and energy towards a church community garden just a few blocks from our church building. I hope you will consider joining that effort this coming spring and summer. We might just find that such a community project teaches us more about God and our spiritual journey than a Sunday school lesson or sermon could ever hope to teach! In fact, I feel certain that if we all work together on such an effort that our family of faith will discover just how much growth God can give.
In yeseterday’s post, we forgot to include our regular Thursday afternoon Prayer & Inspiration group. So, if you are available, we hope to see you at Hood from 3:30-4:30 pm this Thursday, February 9, for an hour of fellowship, prayer and bible study.
June 13, 2019
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