There is an old hymn that says,
‘I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.’
My husband and I often refer to these hymns as “old 100’s,” meaning that they are the songs we grew up with in church, and heard them repeatedly enough that we knew each word, even if we didn’t fully understand what the lyrics said. With all respect to modern-day artists, I realize now that we were gifted in being taught these lyrics, though at the time I could not care less what letting ‘angels prostrate fall’ or bringing ‘forth the royal diadem’ really meant. The songs stayed with me and speak to me in an entirely different way now as a more seasoned sister, shall we say. I understand now why pastors say that for all the jumping around and dancing we do in modern churches, we cannot forget where we come from; I have heard “Amazing Grace” in many a hospital and nursing home, but I have yet to hear anyone burst out with Toby Mac or Lecrae (even though I enjoy those artists, too).
I digress. My point in sharing the lyrics to “I Come to the Garden Alone” was to say that I cannot state undeniably that I have this level of intimacy with God when I visit our garden. Oh, it is not that He does not desire to be intimate with me. I, however, am distracted and rushed in my garden time, which generally falls in the early morning when I am trying to get breakfast ready and school started, or in the evening when I am cooking dinner and settling into the evening’s tasks. (You know what they say about a woman’s work…) Even in my hurried state, I have managed to learn some powerful lessons about God’s hand while toiling amongst the weeds.
There is a science to gardening. Indeed, I am learning more and more about soil and soil additives as we become increasingly dependent upon our yield. But since classifying ourselves as “urban farmers” would be a real stretch right now, my biggest lesson in this season is that, from a spiritual perspective, gardening is about trusting God. Why do I say such? I’m glad you asked. 😉
- Rarely does the garden grow as you plan. Some pro (as in professional) farmer might read this and laugh, but honestly, I cannot remember a year when everything grew as we anticipated. As an online friend says, one of the hardest tasks is to work with the bounty that God blesses you with rather than trying to turn dust into fruits and veggies.
This summer, our plan was to add to what veggies were already in place. We were going to buy an expensive raised box with a trellis (my back and knees aren’t what they used to be) and grow cucumbers—away from the lawnmower that seemed to target our growing vines, beans, and squash. But we traveled furiously this summer—8 trips in 3 months, which meant that all plans to buy and add fell by the wayside. The Lord still blessed us with such bounty.
- You can never predetermine what the end will be. I was so excited about this “potato grow bag” and everything I had seen on the internet, etc. We had this great idea to harvest sweet potatoes. The problem was, based on reading misinformation, we planted our slips last fall—totally the wrong time to attempt a harvest. Amazingly enough, the winter was mild, and we continued to allow the plant to grow throughout the summer. Unsure of what we might get, I cannot tell you how elated I was as my husband turned the bag over and revealed these beauties.
We had enough to use (and probably enough to share, but I wanted to taste them first), and to start a potentially second harvest—in spite of it all.
If the weather holds, these might give us one last harvest just before the holidays.
- What you don’t plan is what God may be using to teach you a lesson. Our composting is nothing fancy; we throw out our raw kitchen scraps, with some attention to nutrients and placement, and let them feed the soil accordingly. Having said that, I threw out a pineapple top one hot afternoon, expecting it to dry out and help nourish the garden. When I went to weed a bit and move it aside, color me surprised that it had grown roots and was firmly in the ground! At this point, it has pushed aside all of the green onion that was originally in that section of the bed; for the first time in years, I actually had to buy green onions at the grocer’s.
A dear friend of mine wrote me after seeing the “accidental pineapple,” sharing all of the lessons she personally saw in this experience. Her thoughts are a blog post in themselves, rich in Word about making thoughtful choices regarding where and with whom we choose to “grow.”
Will we see another sweet potato harvest before winter comes? Will our pineapple plant last two years until its full fruition? All questions to be answered in time. And what does any of this have to do with homeschooling? Well, God’s lessons are timeless, applicable to a multitude of situations. Whether in the garden or at the kitchen table (our school room), the challenge is to trust God. Our plans—our fish and loaves—are all a part of working out our faith, but ultimately, the fruit we see will be what He chooses, and in His time.