One Small Garden: Tending the Life I Am Given

How do I keep finding myself here in the middle of the night? I should be sleeping. I tossed and turned an hour before surrendering to the river-rush of words that swept me up in its current and lifted my body out of bed and onto the quiet bank of the 3 a.m. kitchen table. During the day, the needs overtake me. I take them one by one. This blessed house, these beautiful children, the book I am always writing in my head. The garden we are planning. Three meals a day, the shaping of souls, the lighting of fires, the putting them out… The thought of the baby who is coming in a few short weeks and how he will sweetly upend our lives again. Thoughts of my Mother, who would have understood. I draw strength from the memory of her completed life while grieving deeply that she is not here to walk through this birth with me.

Life is so complex. One minute you are planning out your garden–seed-packets sprawled all across the table, handwritten lists and little diagrams everywhere… You are imagining the seed going into the ground and the eventual harvest. You can almost taste the ripe red tomato, flavored by the full sun. You see yourself basking in the uncomplicated joy of tasting the fruit of your labor.

And the next minute you see your children before you, all rising up out of the ground, reaching for full maturation. All needing varying degrees of shade and sun and thirsty for water. You see the weeds creeping up around them. You wonder if you prepared the soil properly. If the roots went down deep enough. You are aware of your short-comings as a gardener and that each season you are learning from the mistakes of seasons past. You know there are torrential rains ahead and droughts and pests that you have yet to learn by name. And yet, you have that shining hope of the fruit of their lives. That God will grant you the grace to partner with him in the good work of the garden. And that He will cause these beautiful young plants to grow strong and endure.

I am set upon this earth to tend the life I was given. It is one small life. One garden. I hope I am doing this right. There are some things I put in the soil that never came up. But there are seeds I tossed, almost casually, over my shoulder that have taken root and grown into trees, full of fruit.

Oh God, by your grace and mercy, I ask that you teach me to tend my garden. Make it a place where people can stop and sit and see your beauty in every changing season. Where there is color and fragrance and the quivering beauty of blossoming trees. Where birds sing and life is everywhere and everlasting. I want to be so much more than a bare plot of earth. Work me, Lord. And cause beautiful things to grow from my life.

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