My family gardened with me today and we had a blast. Over the last two years, I have spent many days in our front yard trying to get it into good shape. And it’s a beautiful front yard (IMHO). I love the work. Gardening gives me an escape, a way to process my emotions, dig out my frustrations and ultimately have something to show for it. There’s nothing like jumping on a shovel when you’re mad at someone! (It’s more constructive than getting in a social media thread war). And there’s nothing divisive or political about a garden. It just something beautiful people can enjoy and you feel good about it. The rest of family, however, is not so passionate about it. I was thrilled they got in the dirt with me today.
In fact, it was the last part of their Father’s Day gift to me. On Father’s Day, they gave me new tools. The kicker was they also told me they would devote a whole day to gardening with me. And they did. We took to the back yard. It had started to get away from us. Blair and our two girls tilled roots. I dug out an old spiky knock out rose bush (not a fan of knock-out roses!). Tilling and digging will wear you down. After a two hours, I could feel the dehydration.
If there was one word that sticks out to me about today, it’s the word ‘cultivate.’ Cultivating soil for a garden is real work. You have to dig up those old stubborn roots from plants no longer blossoming and taking up resources and space. You have to mix in compost to replenish the nutrient-deprived soil. We used our own compost from old bananas, coffee grounds and egg shells. It was absolutely disgusting which means it was perfect. (As an aside, my brother-in-law thinks I’m becoming a little too I.T.P. with composting).
For ministers, there’s a lesson in there about ministry. Many times, we allow ministries that are no longer blossoming to consume all the time and energy, nutrients and resources. Sometimes, you got to say thank you to those ministries. Then get in there and start tilling the roots, dig up some dead plants, mix in some smelly compost and plant something new. ‘Cultivate’ sounds like such a happy, blossoming word, but in reality it’s a smelly, sweaty word. I’m sure that’s the reason new church starts are called “church plants.” Ask a church planter. It sounds glorious until you realize the exhausting work of cultivating a new church.
It’s interesting to me that the first task of Adam and Eve was to tend a garden. That was real work. God asked them to spend their days shaping wild land overgrown with weeds (were there weeds in Eden?) and thorns that prick through gloves. I have a new deep respect for farmers!
I’m a hobbyist at best, but the work is always worth it. Cultivation leads to flourishing. Today, I was certainly happy to have a partner to help me. Blair and our two girls worked for 4 hours today in the dirt. I’m sure Blair would have loved to have watched Hamilton for the third time. Gardening is a lot like painting a room. Seventy percent of the work is preparing. After a quick run to Home Depot, we planted lantana, coneflowers, a hydrangea and begonias. We took a moment to admire the work. It was a good day. We have done the human, earthy part of cultivating and planting. Now we get to watch God do something beautiful.