Psalm 93, 96 (Morning)
Psalm 34 (Evening)
Although I put out several large plastic buckets with tomato and chile pepper plants, along with a few other things every year, I have to tell you–my horticulture is fairly Darwinian. I tend to put too many plants in one pot, (One’s good, more’s better in case one dies, eh?) I only get around to watering them when they start to look wilted, I don’t add anything to the soil, and really, they’re not in the absolute best place in my yard for sun.
Real gardeners would say I do an awful lot wrong. Yet year after year, (unless the deer eat the plants,) I always have way more than I can eat, and the overflow usually shows up at church on Sunday at coffee hour. It’s a cycle of big ambition, followed by lazy horticulture that despite everything, almost never fails to create more abundance than I need. Did I maximize the potential of my garden? Absolutely not–yet it was more than enough.
I used to berate myself for not being a better gardener, for not being more obsessive-compulsive about things. In my work world, being obsessive-compulsive is tantamount when it comes to patient safety, and my being somewhat OCD is a plus. It would not surprise you that I historically treated my hobbies and passions the same way. But what I’ve learned from my annual adventures in crummy gardening, is that nature can get by with a lot less, and still give me more than enough. I learned I didn’t have to think I controlled everything in the universe. The universe mostly does just fine without my delusions of control.
In that light, all of us of the crummy gardener persuasion should take note of what Paul is saying to the Corinthians in today’s Epistle–and what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t say to hover over the garden of humankind, making book and noting every jot and tittle. He doesn’t say to carefully choose the conditions in which we sow the seeds of the Good News in Christ. In fact, he doesn’t say anything about tending anything. He simply says to fling seed everywhere, almost with a kind of reckless abandon. He says to be generous in our giving and to totally let go of the outcome–then stand back and be amazed.
Generosity with expectations attached can really be a soul-killer. The minute we start anticipating the payback on what we give away, is the minute someone or something will let us down, and cast a thin film of the mold of resentment on what might have been a pretty satisfactory garden, had we really let it alone to do its own thing. We’re far better to generously, lavishly, and lovingly turn it loose, forget about it, and be pleasantly surprised at the yield. Sometimes inattention is the substrate for a beautiful volunteer flower to spring up in the middle of what we intended to plant.
Where is a place you might test the ministry of abundant seed-flinging, followed by holy inattention? What sort of things surprisingly grew in abundance when you’ve tried it before?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. She occasionally finds time to write about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid.