I love gardening. It is a spiritual pursuit for me as it reminds me just how many endless and deep ways that we are connected to God. Not that we need to get down on our knees and dig in the dirt, mind you, for such a nudge. The glory of His creation and the mystery of His works in our lives are ever-present and obvious, if we have eyes to see, of course. What gardening does for me takes this knowledge, however and encapsulates it in a series of endless stories and illustrations of this love and the wonder of his creation. For some particular reason it speaks to me. Calls me. I find the simplicity of the process makes me almost giddy with joy. We tend the soil He gave us, we plant a seed provided by the desired plant's predecessor and passed to us through a simple process of propagation, we tend to the plant, ensure basic nourishment and it does what God programmed it to do. An apple seed turns into a tree and gives us apples. A tomato seed the same. I think sometimes we as humans have lost touch with this most
incredible process of creation of both food and beauty. While it's hard physical work, yes, what better way to spend a good amount of time on this planet than gaining exercise while growing sustenance and living plants that give so much beauty and joy to our lives and give safe harbor and natural habitat to some of the most amazing creatures that surround us! From the amazing bumble bees who pollinate our plants and by man's laws of aerodynamics should not even be able to fly to the fabulous workings of the soil itself, which creates and recreates itself, feeding the plants through a miracle of creation. Hummingbirds, songbirds, butterflies, and incredible insects of amazing variety and color. All serving a purpose in God's creation. A garden is a spiritual place where I can quiet my mind and recalibrate my being with God. I'm grateful for this passion and the opportunities that I've had and continue to have to be able to garden for myself and for the benefit of others in my life.
Growing things is simple. It's calming and yet exciting. Especially when one takes the time to visit and get to know the plants that are present. My wife Esthere and I live in a small apartment in a beautiful historic town outside D.C. We don't have much room here but I managed to create some small growing spaces just outside our windows and on our patio using containers. She loves the flowers and the greenery and the joy that it gives me, a life-long city girl, just makes my heart swell. Every morning she wakes, opening the curtains, and is greeted by blooms of flashing color and new growth that is full of beautiful song birds. Our cat Roman loves that too! Like clockwork, every morning she heads out to harvest the giant zucchini flowers that are popping first thing, reaching up to the morning sun for their wake-up kiss! These are a delicacy, she learned being married to me! I collect them, bread them and fry them to dip in marinara sauce. Before we married she never knew such a thing existed. Now, every morning, she harvests several flowers. This simple pleasure has brought us even closer together in ways I cannot rightly explain as with the morning glories. The ever-reaching, glorious, morning glories!
A few weeks ago I decided to plant some of these amazing vines at the base of the shepherd's hooks and sunflowers I planted. The recent rains have caused them to explode and it's been an amazing experience watching the vines reach out to the space surrounding them, grasping and seeking anything they can find that will support and guide their vigorous zest for life and growth. They are vibrant and seemingly unstoppable in their desire to find a hand-hold, or tendril-hold, as the case may be. :) One morning we sat in the kitchen window and watched them off and on for over an hour and we could clearly see the movement in the vines as they continued to grow and stretch up, up and out, looking, searching, for what, they did not know, but they knew what they needed was there, waiting. The soil provided their fuel, the sun provided their food, and they just somehow knew that there were supports within reach. And, almost like magic, they found them.
The morning devotional we read had a word for us that day that really struck us deep as we watched these beautiful vines reach and sway in the air. We know that the Bible has many versus and teachings that refer to the vine and our place in God's creation. It's a powerful yet such a simple message that was illustrated so clearly to us both as we observed this incredible plant doing just what God programmed it to do. Nothing complicated. It didn't struggle to comprehend why there was was nothing immediately within reach to support it. It didn't sit and do nothing, wallowing in self-pity at the hard work that it was undertaking, trying, ceaselessly to find something, anything, to grab hold of so that it could continue to do, well, just exactly what it was created to do. Grow. Stretch. Bud. Flower. Fruit.
How much we can learn from observing these amazing vines in action. The simplicity of their mission is awesome to behold in action. And, like the bumblebee who flies gracefully from flower to flower in defiance of man's laws and logic, this plant, too, does what we say it should not be able to do. It reaches for something that it cannot see, but somehow, some way, it just knows it's there. Waiting. It knows it will find the support that it needs to continue to grow, stretch and eventually bud, flower and fruit. And it knows that the fat little bumblebees are waiting to do their part in this process. Somehow, it just knows this without a brain and logic center, without a school to teach it, it just does. It just does what God created it to do. It just IS what God created it to be. Nothing more, nothing less.
As we go forth into the hubbub of the world it's easy to complicate the simplicity of the life we've been given. We cannot be blamed for being distracted as our faith is tested by distractions and emotions that grasp at us and grip us. The world that we are immersed in is complicated. Difficult. It can sap our energy as we flail about reaching out to things, situations and people that we see before us. We see something to lean on. Something to grasp hold of. And so many times we do so in desperation and find that this move was not in our best interest after all. How many such mistakes could be avoided if we would trust more fully and completely in God's plan for our lives? How much more graceful and simple could our lives be if we could stay connected, as the vine to the branch, and simply do what it is that God created us to do? Are you searching and reaching for something to support you and your future growth that you just cannot see? Are you striving and working and swaying in an endless reach?
We all are. This is the faith walk. That vine will find what it needed to continue its growth. It is not destined to a life of stagnation. As the lovely hand of my darling wife gently took one single tendril and draped it over a twig in the holly bush several feet away, the hand of God is guiding you, my friend. The vine did not resist her effort. It did not question her intentions. It did not argue that THAT wasn't where it should be or where it should grow. No. It did what God created it to do. It went where the vinedresser guided it. It grew. It stretched. And now it will soon bring forth an explosion of colorful flowers and ultimately give fruit which will fall to the earth, find it's purchase and the cycle will continue.
God's hand is on you. Christ is in you. He is alive and purposeful in His guidance. However difficult things can get, know that you are not alone, flailing aimlessly. You are a precious, miraculous creation and your choice to live in the body of the Christ is your guarantee that you will find your purpose and doing exactly what God has planned for your life you will bear abundant fruit. This is His promise.
Believe it. Grow in it. Stretch through it. Never stop reaching. Peace and Blessings, Sam