Monthly Archives: August 2017

Stuck or Planted

Happiness is neither within us only, or without us; it is the union of ourselves with God.                                                                                                    –Blaise Pascal

August 1998

The travel agent reached out and handed us one ticket to Spain—for my daughter.  In August she will take off to realize a dream I had once held over thirty years ago.

I watch her now and remember those intense longings to see the world.  I wanted the excitement of exotic foods and learning new ways to say, “Good morning.”

Instead, I fell in love.  We bought a home.  Children came along.  And pangs of jealousy pricked my heart whenever a friend left for Japan or Russia while I remained “stuck” at home.

Then, five years ago, my parents, in order, were stricken with cancer, and I discovered the treasures of our years lived in our home town.

My Dad had taught our son to fish; Mother taught our daughter to relax.  Every Christmas, Grandpa had cooked waffles after we opened our packages.  My husband worked alongside my father building a porch and chopping firewood for the family mountain cabin.  Best of all, because we lived in town, both Dad and Mother lived the fullness of their lives until death, at home. 

God’s wisdom has made our home rich in the blessings of family.  He knew this was the greater good, better than seeing the Eiffel Tower.  His wisdom also guides my daughter’s dream to live in Spain.  Letting go, and leaning on His wisdom, we each have the opportunity to bloom where we are planted.

Scripture: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven….I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time.                          [Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-11]

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Meditations:  In the Garden
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Copyright 2017.  All Rights Reserved.

Gardenia Love

Quote:  Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it.  Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light….If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.                                                             –Feodor Dostoevski

 

I would kill for one gardenia bloom, a buttery white flower under my nose, full of sweet scent.  We planted a gardenia bush.  Of course.

We then took immediate steps to make sure it would survive searing summer temperatures in the dry Arizona desert.  Workers installed a vast system of thin water tubing connected to an automatic timer, this programmed to give exactly 18 minutes of water to the gardenia at 3:00 a.m. while we slept.

For years, I was a gardener without responsibility.  I plucked gardenia blossoms at dawn and retreated inside, far from suffocating heat.  So it was a shock, on a first summer day this year, when I found my beloved gardenia bush limp and quietly dying.  Our watering system had crashed.

Alarmed, I grabbed the hose.  I sprayed.  I filled the well around the bush with water. Each morning thereafter, I sprayed water and studied my bush.  I watched buds mature, predicting which ones would bloom tomorrow.  I caught the first signs of yellowing leaves and applied fertilizer.  I plucked off faded blooms, allowing the gardenia bush to direct energy to new leaves and buds.  And I understood the hurt of thoughtlessness, a day without water because the gardener forgot.

With surprise, I’ve learned to treasure the daily responsibility of caring for the gardenia bush that takes care of me.  We don’t plan to fix the automatic water system.  My love of a gardenia flower is so much stronger now because of my love for its bush.  

 

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees.  When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.  [Luke 21:29-31]

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Meditations:  In the Garden
TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Copyright 2017.  All Rights Reserved.

Loyalty

Quote:  Faith is the soul riding at anchor.  –Henry Wheeler Shaw (Josh Billings)

Pansies and petunias were in full bloom throughout the city.  In only one more month the hot Phoenix sun would burn them dry.  I was late.  I began work to restore my garden with only two weeks left in the prime spring season.  This was just the kind of urgency to show off my dual talents:  organization and perseverance.

I grabbed shovels and rakes just as the sun came up each morning and worked until the pink glow of sunset faded to gray.  Body muscles surprised by any kind of exercise at all retaliated with full-blown pain.  I burned them into submission under the pulsing heat of a hot shower each night.  

At the nursery, I avoided the final packs of pansies and sought out summer flowers and vegetables suitable for our six month dry sauna climate.  I knew I could catch up on the growing season if I checked the nursery each morning for new shipments, picking out tomato and pepper transplants four to six inches high, mature but not yet root bound in their tiny plastic pots.

I hunted down hidden shady spots for basil and cilantro seeds, hoping to coax out some late spring herbs.  With no time to spare, I planted all the yellow squash seeds in the packet.  Heaven knows, we didn’t need that many plants, but there was no time to replant if they didn’t sprout.  Best go for broke.

For ten days I planted seeds and flowers with great expectation. The smell of moist soil in the morning confirmed the success of repairs to our water system.  In the next week, I watered, paced, and surveyed my handiwork.  It felt good to invite visitors to walk through a garden of color and order.

Now came the hard part.  What talent I had for organizing and executing the Great Garden Recovery was equally matched by my greater weakness:  a short attention span.  Just as seeds sprouted and plants started to thrive, competing interests started working to pull me away from the garden.

Concerts, writers meetings, lunches with friends, books to read, stories to write, dinner to make, son’s trumpet lessons, shopping trips with daughter, e-mail…Moment by moment, day by day, I was tempted to turn my attention out of the garden and leave my precious plants to fend for themselves.  Meanwhile, in total dependence, the plants in my garden waited for me to guard their welfare with daily loyalty and care.  

I’m reminded of my debt to the Lord for his unswerving love and devotion.  Loyalty is the great protector of life.  God is loyal to us.  How I would wilt and fade if it weren’t for His ever-present love!

And what an honor it is to sing His praise each and every day!  Today’s song of love is not meant to last forever.  It is a renewable gift, received daily from God and owed back to him with loyal devotion.

Scripture:   My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.  I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.  [Psa 57:7-9]

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Meditations:  In the Garden
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Copyright 2017.  All Rights Reserved.

Patience

 

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.

Amen.

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Meditations:  In the Garden
TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Copyright 2017.  All Rights Reserved.

Water Power

And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.  [Mat 14:35-36]

 

I put on my pink plastic garden shoes and headed for regular morning garden inspection.  Down the steps, turning right on the gravel path just after the lavender,  the bright blue sky made me glance upward just as my right foot stepped forward and immediately sank. 

Shocked, I pulled up on my foot.  The mud pulled and sucked as my shoe came free, leaving a three inch deep outline.  Immediately, I knew what had to be done.

Taking one giant step over the problem area I headed toward the tool shed, returning with a shovel and plastic box of repair pieces.  I scraped the orange gravel to the side of the path and began digging gently around the foot print.   Lifting the mud onto bare dirt, I continued probing with the tip of the shovel down into the slimy mess.  Two more gentle pushes, and I met pay dirt.  A firm resistance told me to pull back the large shovel and use the hand trowel to dig further down into the mud.

I dropped to my knees and began to lift the wet mud out of the growing hole.  Closer to the ground, I could see the large area of dirt that had been absorbing water throughout the week from a leak somewhere underground in our precious drip system.  Scoop by scoop, silt and slime accumulated onto a pile by my side.

I tried to imagine the leak in the blue irrigation tubing that had caused such a mess.  My knees were soaking wet, and every time I lifted out a scoop of mud, a tiny oozing landslide filled the hole again.  Eventually, the hole growing wider, I reached moist dirt that held firm banks, and I was able to dig more forcefully toward the nasty leak.

As I exposed the tube and wiped the mud off, I looked for the clean water drip that marked the exact spot for repair.  There it was.  A prick, a pin hole, a speck of a hole letting one drop at a time squeeze out.  One drip after another, the water had saturated three feet of pathway, softening the dirt and making a hidden trap for me on my morning walk.

On my knees, my thoughts turned to Jesus as He preached in the desert.  How his words must have offered such refreshment to parched souls.  How tiny his words must have seemed at first, like the small drips coming from the blue tube.  But how powerful they were!  They came without end, one after the other, softening the soil of human existence, spreading out over the landscape, ready to pull passing people into God’s inner circle of love.

Water Power in my garden showed me the tremendous strength of God’s Love Power.  It is ever so quiet, but drop by drop, it softens our hearts and offers the life-saving drink of salvation.

PRAYER:  Let me drink in the cool refreshment of God’s Word each day.

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Meditations:  In the Garden
TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved.