It’s that time of year again. As a relative newcomer to the “joys” of gardening, I’ve posted before about my efforts at husbandry. (Actually, I’m slightly surprised I remembered that ancient history … I mean, Dude, it was like two years ago!)
In one of my posts, exactly two years ago to the day, I pictured my raised bed garden spot and in another post, I pictured the horrifying overgrowth of weeds that has caused me no end of frustration. Now that it seems Spring has taken hold (notwithstanding this morning’s 36° temperature), I’ve been noticing lots of blossoms on my strawberry plants. Each one is a reminder I should begin tending to their care.
Since my grandson was also in my care today, I decided this afternoon would be a good time for outdoor activity. An hour in the garden wasn’t going to be long enough to eradicate the weeds that have sprung up since last Fall, but it would be a start … so I told myself.
Three and a half hours later (with the sun going down), I captured the above picture before moving inside to make dinner. (Can you tell I’m slightly OCD?) When I planted our first garden (lo, those many years ago … 2010), my challenge was the Bermuda grass. Hoyt Axton used to sing about working one’s “fingers to the bone.” I understand that song by personal experience! I’m not sure I’ve ever worked at anything harder or longer than getting rid of the Bermuda. (I’m not saying it’s completely gone yet, but I’ve made a monumental effort, which continues.)
Today’s challenge wasn’t Bermuda grass. There were multiple other stubborn weeds though. One which had proliferated was a shallow-rooted but invasive weaver that twisted itself around and through the strawberry stems and everything else. It could be coaxed away, but if I was too insistent, the tender strawberry plants came with it. Worse, with each yank, I could see quarter-inch seed pods dropping into the soil!
Then there were the little bunches of delicate three-leaf-clover plants (lusciously green and when they flower, the petals are yellow), shoots of onion grass, something else with flowering heads that resembles rabbits-foot clover. I know I didn’t get them all out by the roots, so I’m resigned to seeing more of them at some future date.
As I worked today, I listened to God’s still small voice whispering through the wind, reminding me of the analogy I’d made in an earlier post: comparing weeds to sin. Now even if you’re not a Christ-follower, you know about sin, right? For Christians, sin is that despicable thing which impedes our fellowship with God. But even non-religious people know something about “what evil lurks in the hearts of men.” (The Shadow knew.)
My understanding of sin deepens every time I engage in garden work. As I pulled to remove the entwined stems weaving themselves in and around and through every other thing in the bed, I couldn’t help but be reminded how sin inexorably invades our hearts, sometimes to the point of sucking all the love, joy and peace out of our existence. Like a weed, sin chokes us.
Each time I handled one of those weeds and watched its delicate seed pods (or maybe just seeds?) fall into the soil, I was again reminded how tenacious sin is, how insistent it is to take hold and destroy. Oh, we humans try to “do better,” “walk the straight and narrow,” “turn over a new leaf,” but sin has embedded itself. We can struggle against it, but like little weed-seeds, the habits of sin don’t let us off so easily. Root out one despicable sin and it crops up in a different iteration.
For Christians, we do have the resource of Christ through his Holy Spirit. What a blessing!
As for the garden bed in my yard, I’ve scaled back my plans and expectations. Last year’s tomatoes were a huge disappointment due to rotting from the roots upward. The green beans never seemed capable of generosity and the peppers had less than reasonable production. I had plenty of zucchini and much was saved in the freezer, but it’s still there today! Zucchini bread? Not a big seller at this address.
I’m learning to acknowledge my limitations. Although I’ve occasionally enjoyed working in the soil, I have yet to decide whether it’s the novelty of Spring or not. (I tend to think it may be.) I will keep at it … especially for my strawberries and the raspberry bush (partially visible on the right in the above picture).
But as with the great poet Robert Louis Stevenson, my garden − the one to which my heart is truly devoted − involves cultivating and tending verses. Therein, I am content.