Just two weeks ago, I stood at the top of my castle garden path and surveyed a disaster. Years earlier, upon the death of my mother, I had withdrawn to the inner court of life attending to garage sales, probate battles, and sad despair. There was no time left for gardening.
In the loneliness of abandonment, my garden had given up and lowered its drawbridges for the mint to enter. Enter it did, tendril by tendril, bed by bed, the long green spearmint strands slid, slithered, and wove their spell over three long garden beds really meant for vegetables. Having no other choice, the garden welcomed mint.
The Great Mint Takeover lasted for two years until the inevitable happened. The automatic sprinkler system died, and with it, so did the mint.
Now, after three years’ absence, I stood at the corner battlement of our castle, surveying the enemy, planning my attack.
My mental list grew by the second: pull the mint, yank and tear the mint, trench the edges of the beds for new water lines, put in 25 bags of mulch, parsley seeds around the tree, a row of Kentucky Blue Lake bean plants in the top garden bed, cherry tomato plants against the walls, and white and lavender alyssum in a stretch along the bottom edge of each bed. A red clay bird bath would look nice under the desert lilac tree, catching water from the early morning sprinklers. Maybe the hummingbirds would come back. If I hurried I could pull all the summer seed packets out of the drawer: yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, ten varieties of peppers, and eggplant.
In two minutes of excitement, I envisioned a return of Camelot. It had taken three years to lose the kingdom, and I now planned to restore her glory simply because I wanted to restore her glory. The doing would be accomplished by the wanting.
The temptation is to run from flower bed to flower bed, racing to the nursery, yanking and planting, and staring for seed sprouts…all Today. What a great gift is a gardener’s enthusiasm! Greater still, is the gift of patience. God appreciates our enthusiasm in life, but He designed the garden to teach patience.
Patience submits to His truths and the truths of plants and soil in the garden. I can yank out piles of mint, but they have to be wheeled out one barrow at a time into the alley. I can dig up the soil and mix it with mulch, but I will move six inches at a time down each thirty-foot row. Muscles ache, and the sun shines bright on fair skin. Twenty-five bags of mulch are heavy. I can work round the clock non-stop, except for bathroom breaks, water breaks, trips back to the nursery, dinner for the family, school band concerts, telephone calls, and pure, undeniable exhaustion.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the passion purple iris won’t bloom until the daytime temperatures reach 75 degrees. If you want earthworms, you still have to wait until K-Mart stocks them for the fishing season. You can go ahead and transplant the bell pepper plants in the morning, but they really prefer if you wait until late afternoon when they will have the quiet of the night to recuperate. And after all the beds are tidy and the sprinklers are timed to mist the beds twice a day, seeds still need ten days to sprout through the top of the soil,…no matter how hard and long I stare at the dark brown patch of dirt.
God, thank you for blessing me with a garden. And shouldn’t I rejoice for strong muscles that ache from a long day’s work? Now, grant that I might grow in patience, that I might learn the glory of moving in concert with your master plan.
Meditations: In the Garden
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