Posted by: minnow | September 16, 2008

Gardening on the Journey

My grandmother and father were both wonderful gardeners. As a child I used to help a little with my dad but mostly I just picked peas, split open the pods and ate the peas raw. Their sweet crunchiness was a delight of summer. I also really enjoyed corn on the cob. (By the time I was old enough to really be much help we had moved and no longer kept vegetables). Sadly I did not inherit their love for gardening, or their talent. I can not seem to keep an outdoor flower alive through an entire season. And, my weak start with planters of tomato and zucchini this year became an evening snack for the local deer.

Prior to this year’s sad attempt my husband and I had one huge garden when we rented a farmhouse for a couple years and two or three years of beans, squash, and a strawberry patch when we had our own home. I have to admit, those gardening feats were primarily the work of my husband and I was a reluctant participant. I could maybe blame my lack of enthusiasm on the fact that I was the mother of four young children but I think the truth is I was lazy. A garden takes work and discipline and even then does not always produce the desired results. A large garden is even more work when it does produce the desired results. My hat goes off to dedicated gardeners. And I am proud to have a few examples of such in my life.

I realize that it may seen strange, at the end of the season, to be cheering the art of gardening. But a strange thing happened to me on the way out of the Building (aka: Church) this summer. I read Shane Claiborne’s book, Irresistible Revolution. Yes, I know, he does not exactly talk about gardening. But, he does talk about community and living wisely with wealth and being available. His attitudes toward life got me thinking. What kind of person do I want to be? Is my lot in life to always be a consumer? How can I take less and give something back?

Recycling was one answer to the consuming less and giving back a little question. Gardening was another answer. So this summer I got a few planters and tried to grow a couple zucchini and tomato plants. I guess lunch for deer is not a total bust but next year I will join the ranks of the local gardeners who do a better job of keeping the deer at bay.

Next year. Wow. I guess now I have at least part of an answer to my first question: The kind of person I want to be is a gardener. Yet, being a gardener means more to me then a gift or love I have inherited. Producing my own food also helps me find a better balance between the consumer producer issue in my life. And, if my garden actually produces an abundance of food I can easily share it with others–neighbors, friends, and my extended family. Giving food away helps me to be another kind of person I want to be–generous, neighborly, and wise with wealth. In addition, producing good things to eat will help me to eat healthier, which is a third kind of person I want to become–healthy and health conscious. Of course getting out in the garden and working a little will help in that regard as well.

I do not know what kind of gardener I will be but I do know that being a gardener will help me to be the kind of person I want to be. A core value (to use a little Church vocabulary on you) I picked up from Shane as he talked about The Simple Way Community (of which he is a part) is the concept of journey. My leaving and now returning to the Building is part of a journey I am taking, my Jesus journey. Not to find Him in the normal way we use that phrase, but to understand what it means to be His Body, His witness, His disciple. That kind of finding Him. How does one find Him in relationship with my fellow sojourners, the Church as a whole, and the world around me? What does it mean to worship, love, and walk with Him? These are my journey questions.



  1. Great post. I have read another book, mentioning that women should garden because it helps them connect with their inner souls. So I can see gardening connecting someone with God. I too tried gardening for the first time. I’m not sure what happened, but our tomatos overtook the garden.

  2. ohh I really liked this entry 🙂

    I also want to be a gardener but don’t have a house where I’m allowed one right now. When I get a house (not a townhome) I will plant one – I’d love to be able to have a garden and eat from it and give away from it like my grandparents & mom did. If only I was old enough or mature enough to ask more questions of my grandparents and learn their gardening skills & passion….

    have an awesome day! 🙂

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