Ahhh… the garden.
I love the garden. Or rather, I love my romanticized idea of the garden.
In my mind, my garden is a beautiful labyrinth of raised beds, each one full of growing plants, making us food to eat later this summer and preserve for the winter. It is organized but wild, and full of productive life.
In reality, my garden is rather pathetic. There is a labyrinth of raised beds, but it is hard to navigate between them due to the 2-foot tall thistles that have refused to release their hold. Each bed is a slightly different story, but there are few plants that hold the hope of growing food. Most plants have hardly grown since I planted them, seemingly stunted at 3 inches tall. Some beds seem to be overwatered, some underwatered, and no matter what I do I can’t seem to get the sprinklers to put out the right amount of water.
Yesterday, I was walking through the garden and lamenting the sad shape it is in.
See, this is my first year with my garden – it is a project that had to wait until we had a reliable irrigation system installed (we live in the high desert), which just happened this spring. And the building of the raised garden beds started last fall and finished this spring. As soon as the water was in, I excitedly bought entirely way too many envelopes of seeds, and went crazy planting. I planted two trays of seed starts and started those at the same time as several things that went straight into the beds. Then I made sure each bed had tiny sprinkler heads in the right places and did my best not to be too anxious for my seedlings to sprout.
Here I am, a couple of months later, and let’s just say my results are less than I’d hoped for. After chatting with my mom and sister, who both share a love of growing beautiful plants and flowers, I realized something that deep down I knew, but had stuffed away. I can’t expect good fruit without good soil. There is one major thing I neglected in my garden, mostly because it’s so expensive – fertilizer. And good, strong plants cannot grow without those nutrients.
This reminds me of something I’ve heard Sally Clarkson say several times in reference to the parable of the soil: Our job as parents is to prepare the soil of our child’s hearts.
My plants aren’t growing well because I haven’t invested in the quality of the soil in my garden.
And in the same way, my children won’t grow good fruit if I don’t invest in the soil of their hearts.
As a mother, I have an opportunity and an obligation to cultivate and fertilize my children’s hearts, creating soil that is soft and nourished, making a place where the seeds of the truths of God can take root and grow. I have to remove the rocks, pull the weeds, and add fertilizer. I can’t expect a harvest of good and godly fruit unless the soil has been cultivated in such a way as to enable the word of God to flourish.
That is my responsibility.
And when the soil is prepared, the seeds that are planted in our children’s lives can take hold and grow. The roots can go deep, the plant can grow strong and healthy, and it can bear delicious fruit.