Each morning and evening I walk to the garden. In the morning the light falls on the bird bath nestled between pepper plants, a rainbow reflecting off the water. For a few moments it’s just the birds and me, and a handful of other critters mysteriously and magically working the land. I feel the breeze on my face, droplets of water from the morning dew, and say a prayer of thanks for what grows in the darkness.
At night I find myself again watering and whispering prayers of thanks for sun and light. I crouch down and move the squash leaf to the side to find a yellow blossom. If I peer closely enough I see the faintest shade of black in the ripening blackberries.The cucumber and pea plants wrap themselves around poles, their vines reaching higher and higher. I breathe in the scent of fresh cut grass mixed with soil and compost.
This growth, this potential, and these plants brimming with life weren’t always here and weren’t necessarily a given. Every year, in Mid-May, my mind cycles through the same thoughts as I stand by my freshly weeded and planted garden: nothing will grow.
I’m impatient, yes, but it’s also hard at the onset to believe that the small seeds sowed in the ground will take root. What with all the chances for water to wash them away, birds to eat them, or the seeds being planted too deep or not deep enough. Some years, also, have more critters that sneak in the night and enjoy their own feast.
But now, come June and into July and August, I’m surrounded by an abundance. It’s hard to keep up with the weeds and care for the plants. It’s a challenge to eat all the fruit. And it plays out the same way every year: I worry we’ll have nothing. And with time it never fails that I sit back in awe of the bounty before me. The garden just needed time to grow. It needed time to let the water soak deep into its roots, it needed time to feel the warmth of the sun on its leaves, and it needed time to be nourished.
Gardening takes time. From the time we picked the first weed to ready the soil, we worked the earth with compost, water, light, and prayers. Growth of any kind takes time. Cultivating not only the land but relationships takes work and dedication and sweat and heartache. Strengthening our roots takes time. And if I take a lesson from my garden, perhaps I can use this mindset for how I cultivate the other relationships and roots in my life.
Where else can I see the small tasks of cultivating, working, and tending making a difference?
This summer in particular as the world opens up and as friends, family, and communities experience one another in new and creative ways, I’m giving thanks for the tiny, yet powerful, gifts of planting roots right where I am.
The kids and I take many walks around town. Whether it’s by foot, stroller, or scooters we pass neighbors, shops, friends at the park, golf carts passing by, and other friends walking. We say hello to our neighbors, we stop and listen to what’s going on in their lives. We get to know them and their stories. Through our walks we strengthen our roots to others.
Every week we look forward to the farmer’s markets to purchase homemade soaps, fruits, veggies, bread, eggs, and a whole assortment of locally grown and sourced items. We know the names of local farmers and can see where and how our food was cared for. We delight in supporting the callings of friends and happily strengthen the roots for sustainable living.
These small actions add up over time in ways that help our family feel connected and rooted to the people and places in our lives. Everytime we invite a friend to sit on our porch, join us for a meal, meet us at the park or pool, or come to church we strengthen the roots of community. Everytime we offer prayers for our neighbors we dig deeper into relationships.
After weeds have been pulled and the garden watered, many nights I’ll sit down on a bench beside the plants. I usually have no words, just gratitude. The fireflies will make their presence known with lights flickering as the sun sets. A small burst of light, illuminating the evening.