Monday, May 11, 2009

The Gardens of Our Lives

I went out with a dear friend last night with the specific intention of just having some "fun time" and not getting into any deep conversation about my life. That idea didn't last long and I soon found myself sharing some very hefty weights that I've shelved for some time. I often store things away in my mind and my heart, opting to focus on other people's concerns. I find much comfort in that. Some things are just too much to bear alone and when we pray about them, God often chooses to tell us to work with one another in applying salve to our wounds.

We know that He wants us to tend to one another.

So, I shared my burdens and life felt all the much better after the tears. I woke in the morning and nature was at its kindest. The temperature was cool, but comfortable, and the birds were all about their business offering soothing melodies. My Japanese Maple seems to have bloomed overnight and apples are forming on the Apple Tree which will soon provide tasty little treats for the deer who visit it once the apples fall.

All of this made me think of how we plant seeds, the seeds of our life's concerns and needs, into the hearts of those who tend to us and cultivate us in order for us to grow the gardens of our lives in order to share our fruits with others.

So, I decided that this would be a fine day to get to work on my tomato gardens. I find no greater pleasure than getting my hands into the earth and working with delicate seedlings that need care in order to grow and produce their gift of food to share. This is one of the many gifts that my Mother has given to me and shared with me.

Growing a garden of food at home is an experience anyone can enjoy. The most modest apartment offers a window to hang a basket of rosemary or host a cherry tomato plant in a pot on the windowsill. They enhance our connection with the cycle of life. The green and blooming colors and the scent of the edible delights we grow decorate our view while tempting us to enjoy the outdoors. As we tend to these plants and nurture them to become a strong, healthy garden, they reward us by literally being able to taste the fruits, or vegetables or herbs, of our labor while helping us to more consciously participate in the circulating energy of nature.

As we slowly and simply begin with these delicate seedlings, we learn to dance with nature's intricate orchestrations of growth and life. We learn to heed the seasons, soil, sun, frost, and shade. We become more than a mere spectator of the cycle of life. Instead, we step into the role of co-creator with God and we enhance what we nurture. No matter how large or small the size of the garden, we benefit from growing our own organic, fresh, and nutritious food while also reveling in the depth of flavor and texture that comes from plants that have been well tended, nurtured, and loved. In the way of my tomato gardens, God rewards me with an abundance of tomatos that I can share with others, which is the greatest joy for a gardener.

One of my fond memories of my childhood is of a gentleman, Roy, who worked at a Funeral Home near our house. He would walk past and pull green beans off the fence of my mother's garden. Clearly, these creations of nature provided a healthy and tasty gift from God for all who walked past the garden ... and continue to do so.

There is a great pleasure in sharing what we cultivate. As we appreciate the food we've grown, we recognize the care that farmers put into the produce most of us buy at the supermarket. With this new understanding, we can acknowledge the roles that other living creatures fill as participants in cultivating the cycle of life. This also helps us when we offer a prayer of thanksgiving at the start of each meal, offering a blessing to every hand which served us, from the field to the kitchen, to the chef, to our server. In doing so, we give thanks and praise for all, and life becomes the banquet that is is.

We also learn to peacefully coexist with the animals and insects that share (perhaps too great) an interest in our gardens.

Even at that, we look at these creatures with a smile and accept that we also provide for each of them .... all God's creatures, great and small.

One must certainly marvel at the fact that the vegetables grow over the fence and reach out beyond our borders. Isn't that what God asks of us also?

As we grow our own food, we participate in nature's cycle of life and form a bond with Mother Earth, allowing for a sense of freedom and pride as provide for ourselves and share with others. Gratitude fills us as we marvel at the beauty of nature and the majesty of God's universe that orchestrates such wonders.

When we allow our appreciation of life to expand, we harvest so much more than just tomamtos. We harvest a love of nature, community, and our ability to share, provide, and appreciate.

We unearth the opportunity to share our harvest with friends.

This is what makes the taste of our tomatos all the much sweeter, and so we we share that sweet, savory goodness with all.

With love & light,


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