Simple things delight me, a stroll down a busy street in Vancouver in late January would have me exploding in laughter over the buds popping on the trees, while strangers passing by wondered if I were in need of mental health services. Spring comes almost 6 weeks earlier to the coast than it does in the interior of BC, and that is the longest stretch of time in the year – I measure the days by the 3 to 4 minutes added light each day. It’s coming.
Eventually it arrives in the Okanagan, (though not this cold week when I’d hoped to be putting plants out ) and I am just as delighted. Every leaf and blade that works its way up from the grave thrills me. The perennials are like old friends and I greet them as they return, “You’re back. You made it! Wonderful. Welcome.” And I shed a small tear for those that perished over the winter- oh no, not the kniphofia.
But seeds. Well, what can I say? I am awe stuck, over and over. Everytime I see a hint of green poking above the soil in the seed tray, I feel like a toddler shouting, “Do it again, Daddy.” This morning I noticed that several of the calendula have sprouted, one sporting a small chunk of dirt as well as the seed cap – like that same toddler, in morning disarray, with tousled hair.
I wonder how many of you, like me, have every available surface covered in seed trays, juggling them between the best sources of light. I’ve had a small grow-light for years and this spring added another.
When it comes to starting seeds, I am reminded every year of the wonderful Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. I enjoyed it as much as my kids did. And this story, The Garden, was my favorite.
I identify so much with Toad – now seeds start growing. I confess to being an impatient gardener, and have been known to carefully dig around some seeds to find out if anything is happening. Last year the armor coated castor beans seeds, (an amazing but poisonous ornamental that grows to an astounding 8 feet x 6 feet) took over a month to germinate. This year, I both soaked and nicked them and they were up in a matter of days, leaving me to wonder how much living space I’ll have in four weeks.
Because I love gardening so much it’s no surprise that one of my favorite images of God is as gardener. “A sower went forth sowing seeds,” says the parable of the sower – ( I’m sure many of us made imago deo feel that way). Every farmer sows with the expectation of a harvest of some sort, food or beauty. The father/farmer as well. He has given us so much, and I believe His heart for us is to bear both spiritual fruit and beauty.
I am thinking of the seeds that have been sown into my own heart. My father, though long gone, looms large in my life. There are things you absorb by osmosis in a family without a word being uttered.
The first thing I was consciously aware of was my father’s compassion. He cared for the oppressed and was ready to help with whatever was needed. Our doors were always open to neighbors, and though that often looked like chaos, I was proud of my dad’s tenderness.
The next seed he sowed – again unwittingly – was forgiveness (and I am so grateful for this one). Someone close to him had embezzled a large amount of money while my dad was overseas for 3 years during the war. Not once did I hear my dad defame this man; not one negative word escaped his lips. He simply, as Rudyard Kipling says in the poem “If”, stooped to rebuild.
Finally, industriuosness and integrity. He worked hard to support us and was scrupulously honest in his dealings. I had much respect for him.
I wish I could say all of the seeds he sowed took off and germinated as soon as they’d been sown. That would be a lie. But one of the incredible facts about seeds is that they can lay dormant for a long while. Some seeds won’t sprout until a fire has passed by, wreaking destruction, others need to be submerged in water – and the odd ones thrive having passed through a birds digestive tract. Hmmm. It took a serious fire in my life to force some seeds to grow.
I know that God is patient and is not standing over me, drumming His fingers, like Toad, shouting, “Now seeds grow.” He is the great gardener and knows when the appropriate rain, drought, fire or passing bird is going to be helpful in getting those seeds growing.
Oh – all this written before I came home yesterday to find a quarter of my home under an inch of water. That’s not good – at least it doesn’t feel good. But a couple of generous neighbors, (one who I hardly knew), vacuumed up the mess, attempted to clean every backed up orifice, and ran a snake down the drain – all the while maintaining strict social distancing, (sarcasm intended).
But possibly, just possibly, there are a few seeds lying dormant that need, that require, a flood to germinate. I have known God’s goodness and help over and over in my life, and today I am choosing life, choosing trust.