Water and Love

By

As a gardener, I’m aware of how many things are necessary for success when you “put your hand to the plow.” Some of my knowledge was gained by growing up next door to my great grandfather’s farm, and some through the countless hours of summertime chores helping tend our family garden. However, much of what I now know and practice came through the study of scientific information. Data. Facts and figures compiled by those who have firsthand experience with events that point to the truth.

I have to live with the consequences of my actions, both in gardening and in life.

Gina Sutphin

Nature so closely mimics our everyday lives. I find the more I pay attention to it and apply it to life, the more I grow on a personal level. But sometimes we just get side tracked. We lose our focus on the specifics due to surrounding circumstances. We forget the things we know and then wonder why our lives and relationships aren’t growing.

Last fall a gardener friend gave me some seeds she’d gathered from her native wild flower beds. Many of these seeds need to go through cold stratification. This is a process in which the seed must endure a specific number of days in winter temperatures before it can begin to grow. Being busy, I got behind schedule and forgot to plant the seeds in time to ensure enough cold days before spring. Since nature could no longer provide what they needed, I put them in my refrigerator. This would keep them at a consistent temperature long enough to trigger germination when planted.

As I watched the calendar fly by, planting day arrived in the middle of many other things needing my attention. Hastily, I forced in time to work in the flowerbed. I ripped out weeds and even pulled up some beneficial plants. I didn’t have time to transplant them to another location. I prepared the soil and calculated the growing areas for each seed based on the color pattern I wanted to create. I hurriedly got the seeds in the ground and hustled on to my other tasks. I even felt a little irritated towards an activity I normally enjoy very much.

Every day after that, I ran toward the deadlines I was facing, until I finally reached the finish and allowed myself to collapse and rest. I ventured out into the yard where I could be free to just wander with no looming pressure to dash off to responsibilities. And there was my little flowerbed. Just dirt and some straggling weeds. Not even a hint of a seedling starting to grow.

Confused and disappointed, I couldn’t understand what went wrong. Did I not give them enough days in the cold? Had I not chosen the location correctly for the amount of sun they needed. Nothing made sense because none of my seeds grew, even though I planted more than one variety. Over the next few days I wandered past, shaking my head at the investment of time and work that yielded no result.

Then one day I stopped. I wanted to really look at that empty bed with frustration. And it dawned on me. I never took the time from my busyness to water the seeds! The most basic of all needs—water—had been neglected in my overly scheduled days. Not only had my efforts been lost but also the effort of my gardener friend who had given me the seeds in the first place.

As I stood there staring at the dirt, again I realized how much nature is like life. When I am worn down and tired, I forget to love. I forget to offer a kind word instead of a critical thought. How many times have I looked at someone and thought: Why won’t you grow? You’ve been placed at the right depth and location for where you are at in life. And I have even spent my own precious time ripping out your weeds! And yet there they stay, withering because they are drought stricken from lack of love.

When we allow ourselves to become overloaded with the tasks of life, we lose track of the most basic things we know to do. Things that should be second nature, that maybe we’ve known since childhood. Things we’ve spent our time and devotion studying, like the words of people who had firsthand experience with events that point to the Truth. Plants need water. People need love.

This summer, that bed will most likely stay bare. I water it daily in hopes that a few seeds have survived my harsh treatment. Even if any did, they will surely never reach the potential they originally held. At least not this season, or the next.

I have to live with the consequences of my actions, both in gardening and in life. Some seeds and relationships can be saved but may take a great deal more nurturing to see them flourish. Sometimes you are just left with patches of dry dirt and weeds when all that was needed was a little water, a little love.

I won’t feel the joy of my flowerbed overflowing with blooms this year, but now I will remember to reflect on the basics. If I can do that, there will be many more opportunities in life for the seeds I plant to blossom.


7 Comments

  1. Jennifer Bast

    These are timely words of wisdom for me. I relate to your words of frustration with others. I have recently been convicted by my similar thoughts, lacking grace and love towards people precious to me. I can’t say I’ve been really busy. I can say I’ve been distracted, escaping, self-medicating. I dread the consequences of choices my loved ones are making, and lament my powerlessness to intervene. Instead of staying present with the pain, I have been hardening my heart and giving in to frustration and anger. I’m in self protect mode instead of love and saacrifice mode. I need to pray for guidance on ways I can respond in love, and trust God’s love for them.

  2. Jennifer Bast

    @jbfullyalive

    These are timely words of wisdom for me. I relate to your words of frustration with others. I have recently been convicted by my similar thoughts, lacking grace and love towards people precious to me. I can’t say I’ve been really busy. I can say I’ve been distracted, escaping, self-medicating. I dread the consequences of choices my loved ones are making, and lament my powerlessness to intervene. Instead of staying present with the pain, I have been hardening my heart and giving in to frustration and anger. I’m in self protect mode instead of love and sacrifice mode. I need to pray for guidance on ways I can respond in love, and trust God’s love for them.

  3. Gina Sutphin

    @ginasutphin

    I am so glad this is was timely for you. Sometimes we look at where we’re at and it doesn’t make sense. We feel unrecognizable to ourselves and we create this outward shell so it won’t be obvious to others. The shell looks like us while the inside is something completely different. The inside is in hiding, in self-protection mode trying to disappear. Escapism can be a form of self-medicating. In a session at Hutchmoot last year, Pete Peterson spoke on Acedia and the writings of Katherine Norris. He referred to it as the noon day demon that convinces you the best use of your time is to do nothing. That really stood out to me as a signification struggle I have faced during this season of self-protection. Thomas Aquinas identifies acedia with “sorrow of the world” saying it is “sorrow about spiritual good in as much as it is a Divine good”. And that sorrow and disheartened place can lead to “a flight from the world that leads to not caring even that one does not care.” It’s easier to stay behind our thin shells and just look pretty to everyone around us. But how many other shell people do we know? Maybe it’s best to just be bravely transparent so others know they are not alone. Thank you so much @jbfullyalive for taking the time to comment.

  4. Rebecka Seward

    This article is truly the node of the root of the skewed mindsets I am currently battling in my own life and in the lives of those that I engage with on a regular basis!   As a woman with a similar background in regards to gardening and visiting my grandparents farm this article makes perfect sense!   I’m in the process of working on shaking the dust off of my new leaves as I grow from a season where I went into near all out self preservation (love withholding mode) mode to continue living some semblance of normalcy in the midst of the winter season.   That cold spell was long and often bitter but how sweet is the warmth of the sun (my Lord’s tender mercies bestowed as answered prayers in His season), how refreshing the renewing water (love of those around me) and rejuvenating are quality nutrients I now am hungrily seeking and absorbing!  I am looking forward to this upcoming season as I am able to fully be transparent and alive in Christ Jesus my Lord…to be known by my love in every area of my life!   This season of truly being able to utilize my talents to the utmost in the service of the King!  To give joy through my flower, life through my seed, and oxygen through my prayers!  I am a Lily of the Valley and a Rose of Sharon, I will grow and bloom where He plants me!

  5. Gina Sutphin

    @ginasutphin

    Rebecka, I love this.
    “That cold spell was long and often bitter but how sweet is the warmth of the sun (my Lord’s tender mercies bestowed as answered prayers in His season)” 
    There is no sweeter feeling than the first few times in spring, when the sun is warm enough to actually feel it on my face. Just breathing in that sweet warm light is such a similar feeling to God’s love and mercies. Each have their own way of almost making the cold season seem unremarkable and forgettable in comparison.
     
    It sounds like we’ve had some similar experiences and struggles with ourselves.  I would encourage you to click on Emily’s “For Your Weekend” link in the comments.  I was honored to be included, but one of the best parts of being included was reading the other articles.  I especially needed “You’re Never Going to Be Fully Ready” by Shauna Niequist. I feel certain it will speak to you in your current situation as well.  Thanks Rebecka.

  6. Jody Collins

    I have asked myself many times on a Sunday morning at church why so-and-so is just ‘not growing’ when they have all they need–why, they’ve been exposed the the Truth, I read them the Word, I helped with their weeding–what’s their problem?

    Then the ‘ouch’ of the answer–‘what about pouring some (living) water on the situation? A kind word of encouragement–start there.

    This gardener appreciates your post–although it hit (a little) too close to home.  Thank you.

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