When I go into my garden I work hard, but it doesn't feel like work; it feels like therapy. I often end up with sweat drops inside my eyeglasses, and I look like I've run a marathon. Sometimes I'm tempted to hum the tune, "If They Could See Me Now," as I am normally picky about being well groomed, but in the garden all grooming is off.
Sometimes I'm just enjoying the beauty of each unique plant and praising the Lord for providing such bounty. Other times, my heart is heavy, and I may be laying my burdens down as I'm on my knees, weeding and weeping. Sorrows could be rolling over me like sea billows, but after a session in the garden, I can agree with the songwriter of that popular hymn: "It is well with my soul."
I am no master gardener, but God certainly is, and He patiently teaches me life lessons as He cultivates my heart while I'm tending my little plots and pots:
Dead-heading: If I'll clip the spent and faded blooms, most plants will reward me with at least double the amount of new flowers, if not more. This is what God is doing when He alters our lives. He's removing the "spent blossoms" and encouraging more vigorous growth. Blossoms are multiplied this way, and we are improved as God "dead-heads" the old and makes us new.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Watering: I had neglected the garden for a few days and when I returned, I found drooping plants that seemed to be screaming, WATER ME NOW! I ran for the watering cans, and spoke lovingly (yes, I talk to my plants) as I watered the potted peppers, basil , oregano, and Swiss chard. By the time I had finished watering all pots and flower beds, the potted plants had revived. We are revived when we drink freely of the living Water. I never have to be spiritually "dried up," as the living Water of God's Word is scattered freely all throughout my house (and even in my car). I own at least ten Bibles. Why wouldn't I read at least one of them to quench my thirsty soul? No good excuse.
"But whoseover drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Fertilizing: I am a huge fan of Bloom Booster by Miracle-Gro. We have a short growing season in Minnesota, so we have to plant quickly, abundantly, and fertilize often. This is especially true for flowering annuals, which tend to put out lots of greenery without blossoms if we're not aggressively feeding the plants. Isn't that true of us, too? We've got this little vapor called life where we're born, then we grow, moving quickly through the seasons of life before passing on to our Heavenly home. God wants us to to have an abundant life. Our flowering season is short. We only have a few bloom cycles and then...
Pinching: Coleus plants will reward a gardener with quadrupled growth if they will do one thing: pinch them. This is a process that takes only minutes, but the results make it look like someone spent hours in the garden tending these plants. Instead of leggy, spindly growth, pinching encourages branching and produces tremendously strong plants. God pinches and prunes us to encourage growth and develop strength, making us more productive and beneficial. We don't like the pruning, but we do appreciate the results of the new growth and increased strength.
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
This has been a year of trauma, sudden loss, and residual grieving. But God gave me a garden where I can go and walk with Him, talk with Him, and know that I am His own, just as the songwriter said. The only difference between my gardening therapy and the lyrics of the song, "In The Garden," is that I never "come to the garden alone." God is always there with me. And He knows when I'm watering the garden, even with my tears.
I'm going to water the basil. And then I'll pinch it. And God will tend to my heart.
All photos are from Francie's 2015 garden collection.