Farming – I can‘t say I know a whole heck of a lot about it yet I live in community where farming is a significant part of the culture. The growers grow premium grasses round these here parts, hay and wheat mostly. There are a few wine grape growers in some of the canyons as well as a few orchardists and potato growers.
Some of us here are hobby types when it comes to gardening and some folks are very successful operators of profitable farming ventures. My wife and I are the hobbyists. We enjoy growing a vegetable garden and have both worked hard to create space there in our lives.
Our garden area sits atop an old creek bed. It was so rocky that I built a 30″ retaining wall around the whole thing and had a 4 dump truck loads of topsoil brought over, creating an elevated growing area. I then built a 9 foot high fence around the whole thing to keep the deer out. I installed zone controlled watering system so we could keep the soil moist and the veggies and berries flourishing.
We then planted the seeds in nice little rows and started watering, waiting and planning our meals.
But flourishing doesn’t come just that easy. Farming, large or small, is an everyday project. Every day, stuff comes to the soil that is harmful for the plant to grow and must be tended to. If wind howls through it both dries up the soil as well as carries in foreign pollens and such that will grow into weeds. If the critters get in they will eat things before they are ready.
Flourishing involves every day attention.
We missed a few days last summer. In fact, every summer we start well and then we miss a few days. Invariably I, then, water enough to turn the thing into a rice paddy to make up for lost time, which creates a compound effect on the weed seeds that have blown in, and in a matter of a few days we have a well watered weed convention growing amidst the carrots, peas and squash.
It’s not too late for the garden, but there is some work to do with the soil as we water it. The weeds take over if you let them. The soil still needs work with the hoe and the hand and the heart.
I have experienced the frustration of weeds taking over. I’ve experienced it and simply given up – screw it! I’ll rototill it up and we’ll start again next year.
So I hack the weeds down with my super-awesome weed whacker, rake up the nasty old things, throw them on the burn pile and we’re back to square one: I have a garden built on an elevated stage with a fence around it – that bears little or no fruit. Ironically the only satisfaction I get that year is that I have a super-awesome weed whacker. Fun! I get to cut crap down. Nice. I’m into my garden at least $5000 in block wall, top soil, fencing, irrigation – We have hours of prep and planting time – and here I am with a super-awesome weed whacker, a pile of weeds, and not much satisfaction out of the garden. Where was I when they were handing out brain cells that day?
I guess I didn’t show up. I was busy, or I forgot or something else just came up.
I have needed these farming/gardening lessons, friends. I needed to learn and experience some some lessons about gardening and about life. I can rototill the garden and this will work just fine – for the garden. But the experience reminds me that the garden really is about us, and those we care about. Our kids, our spouse, our friends, our siblings; real people with real lives who struggle with everything from insecurity and overcommitted busyness to porn addiction, substance abuse, depression, broken heartedness and the like. People in whom pride can take deep roots or with whom shame maintains a quiet controlling grip – weeds that run mysteriously throughout the fabric of our otherwise fertile souls.
The weeds come in, take root and take over.
Jesus life story is often set in the farming villages. As I read the scriptures I am compelled by a different way of life in a different time and place yet the application is relevant for me today.
If you live in the urban jungles, the suburban cloistered communes or out in the boonies like me, I hope for you to know this today, as you consider the condition of your soul; Jesus walks among us without condemnation. Regardless of whether you believe that or not – He believes it of himself and walks, purposefully and lovingly close to every single one of us.
As we talk of such things like watering soil and tending to weeds, may we know that there is a Master Gardener of our soil and soul who would like our attention and availability – that we may bear much fruit.
How about you? Got any growth stories you’d like to share? Shoot me a note, please? I burned my weed pile this weekend and need a little encouragement!