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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)

TITLE: Hearts In The Garden
By Dolores Stohler


My garden contains many plants, warmed and nourished by the sun -- luscious globes of red tomatoes, dripping with juices rich in lycopene, fingers of dark green cucumbers crawling along the ground, tangy white onions and crisp carrots, to name just a few. Two of them, however, bear a unique resemblance to the human heart: the crunchy radish, buried deep within the ground, and the little red strawberry. One has a bitter bite, the other is sweet and fragrant.

Both of these garden varieties are a healthy source of Vitamin C and, because the radish grows underground, it is rich in minerals like iron and iodine as well. Want to lose weight? Well, the radish will help you because it contains absolutely no calories at all. Forget their bitter taste and add them to your salad. They’re worth it!

Strawberries have a romantic link. It was once believed that if you break a double strawberry in half and give it to someone of the opposite sex, the two of you will fall in love. Ah, sweet romance! Why not? After all, they’re a member of the rose family and give off a lovely fragrance.

Historically, this little heart-shaped fruit has been a symbol of passion, purity and healing. But I’m a strawberry grower and well aware that if the fruit isn’t eaten but left to rot in the garden, it will grow bitter and foul to the taste. Even the birds won’t touch it!

I think the human heart bears a strong resemblance to the strawberry. An infant is born sweet and innocent. It coos and laughs when you play with it. Innocence and a tendency to love and trust are part of the baby‘s charm. Bad experiences, however, will turn that tiny heart to sadness. And, if abuse is present, a bitter root may begin to form deep within the human heart. With the loss of innocence comes the loss of a connection to God, as well. It’s hard to believe in a loving God when most of your life experiences are cruel.

Our human hearts have the capacity to be like either the radish or the strawberry. Nourish them with love and kindness and compassion will be the fruit of the spirit. But let a hurt or an anger fester and grow and the roots will reach out like tentacles, entrapping us in a snare of ungodly resentment. Something I’ve learned through my own experience is to open my heart to be searched by God. I want to be aware of any unforgiving thoughts or prejudices that are poisoning my soul. Like King David, I’ve learned to say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Gillian Dobson06/09/09
Well written. An interesting devotional-type piece. Loved your descriptions of your garden - I could almost taste the tomatoes!
Tammy Bovee06/09/09
Thank you for writing this timely and helpful piece. It carries with it great take away value. Thanks for sharing.
Karlene Jacobsen07/18/09
I really love this devotional piece. Its analogies with the strawberry and the radish going along with the human heart are incredible.

Congratulations on Highly Commended with this one. It's well-deserved.