I’ve always wanted a garden. From as far back as I can remember I’ve wanted one. I envisioned what I would have and how beautiful it would be. I dreamed of how I would take care and nurture it. How I would lovingly care for it and everything that it produced. Now I didn’t come to this idea lightly. I knew that there would be problems at times and there would be lots of hard work. I knew there would be days when the sun would feel to hot to work and the bugs would annoy me to distraction, but the picture in my mind would just as quickly brush these thoughts aside. I knew that with a garden I would have a place where I could simply be me not the lie I felt the world demanded me to be. I would find contentment in a garden, in my garden.
Well I have a garden. I’ve had one for almost 20 years now. I worked very hard at getting it, but at the time the work was all pure joy. No matter how much of myself I put into it I felt that I was getting double the return. For a time I did find contentment in it. There was nothing better at the end of a long day than to spend time tending it all of it’s various needs. My wife was/is equally devoted to (now) our garden. It took a little bit of doing on my part to convince her to work with me, but she did. With slight variations in breadth of vision, she caught on to the same dream and diligently worked beside me. At times we would even talk about how we could expand our garden. We knew it was a grandiose idea, yet it had appeal.
However, as time passed I became complacent about tending to the gardens needs. Weeds would sprout up and I would more often than not, try to ignore them. There would be long dry spells and the garden would need watering, but that would have entailed me going out in the heat and so I’d just turn away hoping that a summer rain would nourish it. My wife would come home from an even rougher day and she’d still go out into the garden to tend it, but there was no longer any joy. The garden had just become another job to deal with. Because she’s not the procrastinator that I am, she’d make sure the garden doesn’t die, but at the same time she felt very alone in taking care of it. Because of her diligence and my lack I grew angry with myself, but all too often would turn that anger on her. Now don’t get me wrong, there were times I’d still get into working on the garden with the same glee that I had years ago. On a cool summer morning, even before I’d had breakfast, I could find the joy that I had been missing and even conjure up those more youthful visions of what the garden could become. But those days were few and far between. More often than not, I’d work on the garden so as not to get in trouble with my wife. The garden was not the place of quiet solitude and happiness that it once was.
I used past tense verbs in the previous paragraph on purpose. In the past 2 months I have realized, through more than a little help, that my lack of attention to the garden is causing irreparable harm. I had thought, or at least hoped, that the little bit of attention that I was giving it was enough to sustain it. Of course I was also overly relying on my wife to hold it all together. The reality is that the garden may look good when we clean out the weeds but the soil lacks the nutrients needed to continue using it. So instead of doing the maintenance work all along that was needed, I find myself having to regroup my efforts and begin from scratch giving the garden a fresh start. It’s going to mean a lot of time and energy on my part to clean out all the dead plants and re till the soil, but the investment that I’ve already made, and that my wife has made, is too great to let it continue to fall apart. We both still have our vision of an abundant garden flowing with the fruits (or vegetables) of our labor.
I’m sure you can see past my cute little analogy and realize that this post isn’t about rutabagas. I have to give a hat tip to the Maestro for inspiring this post. His story of being a young boy working in his vegetable garden really got me thinking. His vision of working in a garden and the joy that he had in those simple tasks made me consider the garden that I have in my family. I think you can easily see the correlation. I think you can also understand how easy it is to become complacent in tending that which our good Lord has given to us. By putting this into the perspective of a gardner I began to realize a number of what are really quite basic truths.
Like gardening, being in a marriage and raising a family take work. You can’t sit back on your laurels and expect your family to flourish as if by magic. Work involves sweat, it means you have to be willing to get dirty and when it comes to the distractions (weeds) of the world, it takes tenacity and constant vigil to keep them at bay. But look at the fruit that we recieve from our labors. I told my son the other evening; “It’s not the job that I find personal satisfaction in. No one gets a big ego stroke because they are an accountant, manager, developer, etc. It’s from the work performed and the accomplishments seen. Joy is the ledger sheet that balances out at the end. The employee that says thanks because you took that extra step or the application that actually works as planned.” I find joy, satisfaction and contentment when I look at my family and know that I am doing all that I can for them, no matter what my circumstances may be.
I have to personally learn to take this message to heart. I have to remind myself that it’s just not going to happen without effort on my part. Like the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) how can I expect to be entrusted with more if I am not dilligent with what I have already been given. You see one day I hope that I’m going to be called on to expand my garden. I’m hoping when that day comes it’s not going to be a larger garden or an added plot, but a full blown farm.