Monday, September 8, 2014

An Unexpected Harvest

At the beginning of Summer, my family and I decided to grow sunflowers.

Okay, it sounds nice and supermom-ish when I say it that way, but the truth is I decided to grow sunflowers and I dragged my family into it.

It has been an experience I have fallen head over heels in love with.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 or 20 years ago, my grandmother planted a "Sunflower Playhouse" in her yard.  Mammoth sunflowers bloomed and towered over me as I walked a thin path of stepping stones to the bench in the middle.  It was a young granddaughter's dream.  I could sneak away and have a place of my own to hide out in.

I decided this year that my four year old had enough years under his belt to appreciate a sunflower playhouse.  We did the research, brought home the necessities, and set to work.  Here is what I learned:

You can't till up untouched earth with a plastic ninja turtle cultivator.  I mean, technically you can, but if it's a large area, at some point you're going to have to break bad and invest in adult gardening tools.  I had the callouses of a cheapskate to prove it.

It's called a cultivator.  For a while I just called it a "digger-thing."  I take my cues from the four year old.

Cultivation requires you to start on your knees.  I bent, I kneeled, I sat, and I squatted while digging up roots, planting seeds, and pulling weeds.  I had to be low.  I couldn't enjoy things that were twice my height until I first humbled myself and got my fingernails dirty.  When I find myself on my knees, I should ask myself, "What greatness am I being prepared for?"  Handling the loftiness of God's work requires humility. (1Peter 5:6)

I need not worry for my future.  These incredible little seeds were dropped into a dark, one-inch grave and emerged weeks later without my intervention.  They stood up tall and tender.  Through summer storms, high winds, scorching heat, and small hail, they persevered.  If the creator of the universe and all in it sees to it that these flowers grow just for our enjoyment, will he not establish my growth as well?  Will he not protect me when my life is dark and stormy and I feel hopeless? (Matthew 6:26)

There is beauty in the process, not just the finished product.  These plants captivated me through every stage.  I actually woke up each morning and peered out my bedroom window to see overnight progress.  I looked forward to going out each day, coffee in hand, and inspecting new sprouts, new blooms, and harvest-ready heads.  Too often, I forget that God admires me this way as well.  I get discouraged with my ugly shortcomings and all-out lacking.  I know that God is pleased with my progress and that he finds me beautiful at every stage. (Song of Soloman 4:7)

We harvested so much more than seeds from these giant flowers.

I had no idea that simple gardening would move my family and I in this way.  My son learned a little about hard work and not quitting.  My girls, although still so young, were in awe.  My husband, if anything, enjoyed not having to cut grass in that corner of the yard.  I reaped all kinds of harvests: head knowledge, heart knowledge, and a deeper love and appreciation for my cultivator (The almighty cultivator, not the digger-thing).

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