Another goal, one I am reflecting on more and more lately, is to really get a grip on the idea of rest. Not sleep, I get that, but rest, relaxation and refueling. I hope gardening, whether my raised bed vegetable garden or the many pots of herbs and flowers gradually taking over our patio, will lend a hand in that arena.
This past weekend I had my first real visit to the garden since we planted. I needed to do something called "cultivating". This was a word I had heard and used in recent years. It is a biblical term as well as an agricultural one. I had heard it in homeschooling circles when referring to what we hoped to bring attention to and value in our children's educations and upbringing. We hoped to cultivate a love for certain things, skills in others and character qualities that honor God. Cultivating faithfulness comes to mind.
As I cultivated my garden, I just couldn't help but see my new plants with little faces, and hands, feet firmly planted in the soil. I spread some nasty smelling, albeit organic plant food all around the plants. I used a shiny new tool, a menacing claw like contraption, to break up and turn over the hard soil. I could almost hear the protests of the little seedlings, hands flailing in the air..."Hey, what's up with this...we were just fine, enjoying our day and now the ground is shaking, dirt is falling all over us, this is noisy and frightening and WHAT is that smell!?" I know I would be protesting similarly...and then it hit me. I do protest similarly when the ground beneath me shakes and feels crumbly, when the dirt is flying, noise swirls around and stinky stuff gets a little too close. I did not see, until this gardening chore became mine, the true value of such cultivation. By breaking up the soil, I made it easier for these new, tender plants to put down deep, strong roots. Allowing air and water to get where it needs to go rather than just running off will encourage growth as well. The smelly, rich fertilizer, mixed thoroughly into the soil, will make for more and better fruit down the road. How like life this is. Cultivating faithfulness or any other precious virtue may, at least for the short term, seem more like torture than training.
One more chore I got to practice for the first time was thinning. I didn't like this chore so much. The idea of removing some of the little sprouts to make room for things like carrots and beets to spread out and grow was kind of sad. The lesson I'm taking from that? Sometimes we may need to spread out a little, not be quite so close to those around us to cultivate some things we might not otherwise. I'm thinking about this a lot lately. I hope it's a lesson confined to beets and carrots.