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Lessons from the garden

Lessons from the garden

Our garden is past the point of no return.

It’s been days since I walked the beds searching for ripe cherry tomatoes and green bell peppers. Tucked to the side of our house behind a small white shed, it’s easy to ignore what needs to be done. Yet, with the cool fall mornings and the gentle hum of insects, I make my way to our four rows of plants. 

Draped from a trellis yellow, shriveled cucumbers hang by a thin thread. The okra reaches to the sky, yellow and purple flowers still blooming, along with a host of oversized, forgotten okra. The jalapenos have grown so big that I can’t tell which leaves belong where, and the sweet potato leaves have traveled into the grass. 

I stand at the edge of the garden, unsure of where to start. There’s not a patch of soil free of weeds. The walking beds are unseeable between the dead squash vines, crab grass, and overgrown leaves that have taken over. I walk around the perimeter hoping for a way in, a place that doesn’t feel so overwhelming.  

Underneath the tomato plants I find ripe cherry tomatoes covering the ground. I pick one up and brush the dirt away before popping this one small fruit of my labor into my mouth. It’s warmth and juice gushes across my lips, a taste of lingering summer.  

For a few moments I lift my face to the sky and feel its warmth, saying a prayer of thanks for this small bounty. 

Later when the kids are in bed, the sun dipping behind clouds, and a cool breeze making goose bumps on my legs, I head once again to the garden. I don’t look at the whole plot of land, but rather the row in front of me. Melons are hanging from a green trellis and a few yellow flowers still cling to the vine. There’s hope for more melons to grow. Squatting down on my knees, I set my eyes right below me. I can’t do everything, the garden will still be out of control, there will always be weeds to pull, but right now, I can start. 

I pull one weed and see a tiny glimmer of soil.  


Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website, follow her work on Facebook, or sign up for her monthly newsletter.

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