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The Secret Garden
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At small group a few weeks ago, we were discussing Corinthians 13 and the different ways we know God loves and cares for us. God has, of course, many ways He shows His love, many of which we either don't notice or disregard because they are the 'wrong kind,' meaning, not what we thought we needed. Sure enough, He knows us infinitely better than we know ourselves. How do I know this? Because He has never given me what I thought I deserved, but always what He knew I secretly longed for.
I always wanted a garden like my Mom's. It wraps all around my childhood home, blossoms early in the spring and is transformed by hard work and God's hand into something new every year. Ok, I never wanted anything that extravagant. Maybe just a little plot of land where I could grow flowers and some vegetables. And have a tiny birdbath. And a couple of bleeding heart trees, but that's all! Like I said, nothing big. Just something I can grow into. I never thought I was entitled to have one, but I secretly hoped someday, when I was a 'grown up,' I'd find that perfect spot of free soil.
As a 'grown up,' I've moved around a lot. In fact, I haven't lived in the same place for more than a year since my parents' house. Every year since high school graduation has taken me to a new city, state, dorm room, apartment, house, condo and, unfortunately, not a plot of land big enough for a garden.
The winds seemed to shift when my roommate found our current place. It has a huge backyard (by Chicago standards of course!) and after a approving nod from the landlords I was ready to get my plant on. But when we moved in it was already October, and there was no time for sowing any seeds. I'd have to wait until spring.
Winter seemed to last forever this year. I can't imagine how you senior gardeners can stand waiting for that thaw. I was going crazy in the apartment, practically clawing to get outside. Finally the ground was soft and the sun returned. I ventured outside with my spoon and fork (yup, no real tools) to dig up and dig in. I looked around the property. Then circled again. Didn't I remember there being some soil? Somewhere?
A small patch in the front flower box, some in the back around the pear tree and that's all she wrote. Not known for giving up easily on a seemingly hopeless situation, I worked the crud out of that soil, weeded like a madwoman and planted about twenty different kinds of seeds in my ten feet (not consecutive) of garden. Carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, snap peas, wildflowers, squash, alyssum, gypsophilia. I toiled every spare moment I had and tended it all very carefully and lovingly. I even prayed that God would be kind and let my plants grow. Two months later I had...
Nothing! Not one sprig of a stem of a leaf. Not one tuft of a tassel of a tuber. You get the idea. Feeling finally beaten out of patience, I said to heck with the stupid thing! I'm not going to water, weed or even look at these dumb spots of soil! You're dirt to me now, I tell you. Dirt!
I felt discouraged and drained, wishing my backyard was not just well-kept but filled with beautiful blossoms and ripe veggies. The only thing I didn't stop doing was pray. Maybe that seems silly, to pray for growth... but if it can work for me personally, it can work for my garden. "God," I prayed, "Please let something grow. Even if it's just one sprout, I'll take it and nurture it and praise you for it."
One week later I came back out to my garden. Everywhere I looked there were sprouts, new little flowers opening up at different times of the day and vegetables bleating for the sunshine. Most surprising were the morning glories; I never even planted them, they just grew and grew and spread to every nook and fence link they could find. I transplanted about ten of them to an old, dead shrub and they multiplied and climbed up those gnarled branches like nobody's business! Furthering my plant project was an upstairs neighbor, a self-proclaimed plant-killer, who brought me all her dying flora and I nursed them all back to health. Then, she let me keep them!
Still I wonder, why didn't the plants grow? Maybe because I'm a new gardener I miscalculated how much to plant, when to water. Maybe I sowed the seeds too early and the soil wasn't ready to be worked yet. Or perhaps it was because I started to feel like I had earned my garden because I worked so hard for it, maybe that's why nothing grew right away.
Reflecting on my impatience, I understand a little better now that God does not have a seed of it in Him.
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