by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
I just “installed” the vegetable garden. I got the basics in – tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers and few other items. It is in. Success! Done!
No, I failed. I put the whole thing in in less than an hour. I felt frantic. Turning the soil over, scattering and mixing in the fertilizer, grabbing the hand shovel and jamming the tomatoes in the ground, and finally putting the cage and rabbit protection around them all.
Gardening isn’t supposed to be fast. The earth is slow. Weather is slow. Sunshine and warmth are slow. The moon is slow. But I thrashed about and got it done quick. You know it is supposed to storm tomorrow so I had to hurry. I have to study for sermon so I was in a hurry. Fortunately I just preached on how discontent our herd-mentality culture is and how Jesus is the Good Shepherd – so this totally makes perfect hypocritical sense. In a bit I have to run to a DARE graduation. And I have a couple of errands to run. Oh yeah and I need to return a book and get to class.
All these calendar events killed my spirituality of planting my garden. Theologian Esther de Waal quotes and then comments…
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy. – Psalm 126:5
“Planting time for Israel meant something had die for there to be new life.” There was a tradition of weeping while scattering the seed. Something gave its life so new life can break forth. What a deep reflection on a simple basic seed. That’s soulish. But me – I know all this, and still I busted through the planting.
Of course it isn’t a real failure. The good news is that I know I hurried. As Thomas Merton states, “To think to pray is to pray.” To know I am hurrying when I should be going slow is to pray.
Now I will watch me worry about how my little tomato and pepper starts are faring. The demon rabbits will afflict me. I will wake up each morning wondering what savagery took place in the dark early hours. The core spiritual practice here is simply to pay attention and watch yourself.
If all goes well – and there are no guarantees – then I will reap with shouts of joy. All this belongs in the box. The frantic planting. The watering, de-bugging, pruning, guiding vines and worrying – it is all a part of the spirituality of the garden. All for some simple joy. It is a small secretive joy, a quiet satisfaction. This Fall the vines will slow and die and the winter’s cold breath will hush the earth to sleep. I will begin everything anew next year. Yes, next time I will plant things differently. Next time.