Springtime is wonderful. From the warming temperatures, to the colorful flowers, to the smell of grilling burgers, I feel like spring makes me come alive. We get to see the transitions from death to life in the world around us – flowers bud, trees bloom, my puggies awake from hibernation to sunbathe. Nature seems to be restored to it’s fullest, producing luscious fruit. A vegetable and herb garden is one of the greatest expressions of this transition.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always worked alongside my family and friends in our garden. We would toil and till until the soil was rich and ready for planting. The smell of the cold, wet dirt so natural and raw. The warm sun beating down on your neck and bare arms. It took hours and days, but that preparation mattered so much.
Then came the planting – building mounds for squash, poking holes for okra, creating wire cages for tomatoes. All this was followed by watering and waiting. At first, nothing happened, at least on the surface. But in mere weeks bright, strong greens emerged from the ground in various shapes and shades. In that moment, all of the sweat and muscle made sense. Rarely have I felt such a sense of accomplishment.
Not that I really did anything, just prepare a way for a miracle. The true work was done by the Creator calling the plants to grow up out of small seeds with His strong, quiet voice.
Tiny leaves matured into full, ripe plants. With a little more water and a little more love, it was time to reap the harvest. What started as black and beige seeds mixed into dull, brown dirt became sunshine yellow squash, rose red tomatoes, woodsy green peppers and fire orange carrots. All even more delicious that they appeared.
Never just one or two veggies were collected, instead it was a bounty. More than we could ever eat! So my family always shared. There were jars of homemade salsa distributed through town, cucumbers traded with neighbors, and meals prepared for friends. The garden taught us giving and brought us community.
Lessons learned from a silly vegetable garden have shaped my views on work ethic, patience and results. They have altered my expectations for stewardship and generosity. They have set an example for discipline, discipleship and duplication. They have grown within my soul a desire to be a part of God’s restoration, making all things new and a desire to invite others along on this miraculous journey.
This spring I couldn’t help but plant a garden in the backyard of our first home. The preparation was a family affair, including the two mischievous pugs. Excitement arises each day as I examine the soil and am already seeing the fruits of our labor. I couldn’t be more delighted, as the tradition of growing a vegetable garden continues with my own sweet family.