Gardening & Hope
in the Springtime

Dateline: 9 May 2008

I have a section of good soil for my garden. I have gardening tools. I have seeds. I have compost. I have strength in my body, and the will to use it. And I have hope. It is springtime.

Already I have removed the detritus of last year’s garden: straw-mulch, remnants of floating row cover fabric, trellis frames, and long-dead vegetative refuse. Then I tilled the slate clean. I am ready. I have hope, because it is springtime.

The freshly-turned earth in my garden is moist and soft and sensual. We have been apart too long. The separation of winter has made my heart grow fonder. It is good to once again be back with my garden. It is springtime, and my hope runs high.

Long lengths of sisal string, stretched taunt between stakes, mark my rows. Below a line, my hand slices through the soil, making a furrow, just so. As I work with my hands, the cool earth packs in dark crescents under my fingernails. Each fingertip has a smile, as does my face. It is springtime in my garden, and I have hope.

Freedom can be found in a garden. Great masses of modern men are shackled to the degrading work of our industrialized economy. We submit to the drudgery of efficiency, of specialized, repetitive, trivial tasks. We are, at the same time, active participants and victims of the exploitation. But when we work in our gardens, the chains fall off. We find escape. There is hope, and it is strongest in the springtime.

I have commenced to plant some seeds in my garden: lettuce, spinach, and parsley. To plant these properly, I must kneel in the soil. There are devices that allow one to plant while standing. But, no, I must kneel. And I will bow my head as I place the hard, lifeless specks in the furrow. Planting seeds in the garden is, after all, an act of faith. Faith and hope, seed-in-furrow, hand-in-hand, in the springtime.

The planting of seeds in my garden, by hand, on my knees, is a simple action of rebellion against the modern order. It is an act of wisdom and significance in the midst of a foolish and vacuous world. It is voluntary submission to an older, higher calling. There is hope in this doing, in this calling. And this hope is greatest in the springtime.

Like every gardener, through every age, from the beginning of time, I envision what will be as I plant seeds in my garden. I see the entire garden planted. The seeds have grown to lush and fruitful maturity. I see divinely-inspired beauty. I see the bounty of the harvest on my family’s dinner table. I see the goodness preserved and stored in our pantry. I see into the future, with hope, in the springtime.

Food, fresh food from the garden, is, of course, on my mind when I am planting. I imagine the satisfaction of eating what I have grown. The flavors of steamed summer squash, of cucumber slices in vinegar, of fresh peas and young potatoes, of just-picked, peak-ripe tomato slices mixed with cilantro, of cabbage salad, of cantaloupes, of green beans, of cold, juiced carrots in the fall, and more. My mouth waters at such thoughts. They fill me with hope in the springtime.

There are people who are repulsed by the idea of growing their own food. They consider it wasted time, or an outward expression of poverty. They seek a richer life in modern leisure and amusements. Blinded by the fog of industrial-cultural, they search far and wide, in vain, failing to see that the answer is directly under their feet. They too could be co-creators, they too could be partakers in the mystery, and the wonder, and the beauty. They too could know the hope that comes to a gardener in the springtime.

I do not yet know for certain, but I believe gardening is eternal. One day, after my lifeless body, a mere speck in the vastness of creation, is placed in the soil and covered over, after my soul is transplanted into the realm of He who, out of love, created the garden and all that is, then I will know. But one thing is sure now: Hope is eternal in the heart of this gardener... especially in the springtime.

6 comments:

Ginny said...

:-D

My sentiments, exactly!

:-D

mark said...

Yes, we are all trying, somehow, thru our gardens, to find our way back to Eden. To walk, just once more in the Garden, with Him. At work, were I am a groundskeeper, I planted flowers again in the big display garden. And I silently prayed, that the Lord bless my efforts, the dirt on my hands, the love of living things in my heart, and let the earth bloom again. "The earth laughs in flowers". I laugh with Him in growing them.

Ray said...

Couldn't have been said better - a lovely set of thoughts, sentiments, and HOPES...

Stephen Orr said...

This is one of the loveliest, most lyrical essays I've read in quite some time. It's poetic and powerful...and so very different from the popular culture surrounding us.

Jimsimply said...

What a beautiful spring meditation. I have felt the same prayerful hope as I pushed my seeds into the ground.

My southern garden is showing lots of life already, and my wife laughs when I say I could just sit in the garden and watch.

Thanks, Herrick.

Play in the dirt said...

This reminded me of the movie "Faith like potatoes." I think, given your love for God and potatoes, you'd really enjoy that movie! I highly recommend it...