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They may look tacky, but they represent a lot of joy. The empty seed packets taped to my fence at the end of the vegetable rows may be an eyesore because they are attached with duct tape, very small pieces, though.
This is the first vegetable garden I’ve planted in many moons. This garden is small in comparison to the ones I used to plant, but these seeds and plants were put into the ground with high harvest hopes for ripe cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, green beans, and peppers.
I learned to plant a garden from my husband David’s grandmother, Beulah. When I married and moved from Houston to the country, I had little agricultural experience. I’d only been close to fresh vegetables at the grocery store and two corn stalks growing in my parent’s yard.
Someone had given my four-year-old brother Kenny a few kernels of dried corn, and my mother let him plant them in the flower bed at our home. When they got four feet tall, my sister and I, both teens, were mortified that tasseled corn was growing in the front flowerbed for the whole world to see. Later, Grandma Beulah’s instruction cultivated garden appreciation and at least a lime green thumb.
This spring, I’m about three rows shy of having my garden planted. Hubby David came home when I was putting away the watering hose, sharpshooter shovel, hoe, and duct tape. Although Grandma has been gone for 20 years, I told David that grandma “spoke” to me all afternoon. Each time, I’d get ready to chop dry flaky manure into a row or press a large tin can around a tender tomato plant, I’d hear her voice.
The same instructions she’d given me thirty years ago surged forward and helped me with this new plot of ground. I even spoke to her aloud a few times when I messed up. Apologized for several crooked rows. I didn’t use her stake and string method to mark off straight rows, just eyeballed them. I could see her sizing up a slightly curvy row and hear her saying, “Oh well, a crooked row yields more anyway.”
Sophistication and soil don’t often mix. Dirt under fingernails doesn’t go over at a board meeting. We get used to skyscrapers, plastic keyboards, and buying vegetables from grocery bins. But lessons beyond gardening can be learned by placing a lifeless-looking seed into the warmed moist earth and watching for germination, watching for God to keep a promise. When two leaves of a seedling slowly unbend and reach for the sun, a hope unfolds, a promise of “more.”
The word “inspire” came to our language through Latin and Old French and meant to “to breathe.” God breathes life into seeds and souls, and one of the Christian paradoxes is that Christ died to bring life. We, too, can inspire, when we die to self. How do the following words of Jesus inspire you? Memorize and meditate on these this week. I will too, especially as I watch for those seedlings of promise in my backdoor garden.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24