We’ve been doing a lot of planting here at Midway Presbyterian Church. A few weeks ago, it was the cold weather crops, the lettuce, spinach and onions. Then it was greens of all sorts--collards, turnip, mustard, kale—in addition to some nice potatoes. Every few weeks, there is something to plant. So people show up, eager and excited with hoes and rakes and shovels in hand. We get into the dirt with our tools and our hands and put our little seeds to bed with dreams of a fantastical harvest.
But already, already, that garden is teaching me things, revealing little lessons that I need to learn about life and growth and the nature of world. And the first thing I have had to learn is that life requires a lot of patience. Waiting and patience and patience and waiting. That’s key for anything to grow.
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Patience is not much of a virtue nowadays. No one wants to wait for anything. Convenience is what we want. Convenience and efficiency and cost effectiveness. Whatever will give us the most bang for the buck and get it to me in 30 seconds or less. (Yes, I know. I get impatient with the UScan at Kroger too.) We are on a tight schedule and an even tighter budget now thanks to the economy. But in the garden, that just ain’t so. You’ve got to have patience. You’ve got to hold your horses, check the calendar, check the weather, check the soil. And if things aren’t ready, you wait.
Here are the lessons on waiting thus far:
Number one, you can’t rush the planting time. If the ground is cold, if it’s too muddy, if there’s a risk of frost, you can’t just go ahead. You can’t rush things. You have to wait until the right time. Like Jesus says, if that soil is too rocky or sandy or shady, then not much will grow when the seeds come along. They need just the right moment. And that takes patience.
Number two, you can’t change the weather. We plan planting days for the Community Garden only to have it rain. Then snow. The sunshine comes out for half a day and then it rains again. No matter how hard we try, we can’t make the weather do what we want. Rain falls on the just and the unjust and all that jazz. So we can only wait and be patient.
Number three, we can’t make the plants grow faster than it should. Sure, farmers have been improving plants for centuries, selecting for the best and the biggest. And scientists regularly alter corn and soybeans to be resistant to drought and bugs. But even with all the tweaking we do, we can’t put a little seed in the ground one day and the next day expect our crop to be ready to harvest. It takes time. It takes development and one little period of growth after another. It takes patience.
God asks us to be patient in our lives. To trust and be still and wait for the Lord as Psalm 37 says. Because the time will come. The time for things to take root and grow. The time for us to deepen and understand. The time for others to mature and grow. We must be patient. And willing to wait for that moment and the right soil. To hang on through the bad weather. And learn to appreciate the time it takes to grow up good and fruitful.