Luke 13:19 – It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree. (KJV)
Slow down! That was my New Year's resolution. As Wordsworth would say, "The world is too much with us." Even as I slide down the slippery, senescent, sixth-decade slope of life, I still scurry sunup to sundown, as if I won't sleep to wake again.
How haste harms is a lesson I should have learned years ago, when my hobby was fishing. I had a small boat and motor, a pole, a paddle, and a bait box. On the lake, rat race gave way to snail pace, and I had fun, whether the fish bit or not.
But then one day, I noticed other anglers with large, fast boats, racks of rods, fish finders, and trolling motors. They skittered around like water bugs in a puddle. If fishing was slow in one spot, they sped to another.
I gave in to temptation, bought a big boat, loaded it with accessories, and began racing from one end of the lake to the other, never slowing down to enjoy my hobby. Fishing became stressful, a water-borne rat race.
I longed for my little boat — the one I could tie to a tree and fish for hours, listening to the waves' gentle lap, buzzing insects, and chirping birds … becoming one with nature.
I began another hobby, gardening, and vowed not to ruin it with unnecessary bells-and-whistles accessories, and by not hurrying.
All life is learning, and gardens are ideal classrooms. Gardeners soon learn that their hobby is a metaphor for life, where they experience contentment, frustration, disappointment, joy, hard work, and relaxation.
A conscientious gardener is an artist whose medium is the proper mix of soil, water, sunshine, and living things. Like all artists, he learns that worthwhile creations don't come easily. He learns to arrange priorities and to concentrate on one task at a time rather than flitting in several directions at once. As his skills increase, he learns that by breaking big jobs down into smaller, more manageable parts, he can achieve the desired result with a minimum of frustration and counterproductive effort.
When a gardener fully grasps the parallels between gardening and life, he realizes that a well-tended garden, like a well-tended life, nurtures his mental and emotional well-being, which in turn provides strength of spirit, enabling him to cope with life's heartaches, sorrows, pain, and disappointments. The things a gardener grows help him to grow in his understanding of the glory, power, majesty, and creativity of the Gardener of the universe.
At day's end, the gardener/artist turns from his palette, looks with an approving eye at his work, and is satisfied with his slow, steady workmanship. With a deep sense of accomplishment, he can look back on a day well spent and gain a clear understanding of what poet Robert Service meant in the last stanza of his poem, "Each Day A Life":
- O that all Life were but a Day,
Sunny and sweet and sane!
And that at Even I might say:
"I sleep to wake again."
Prayer: Merciful Father, teach us to tend our lives as we would a garden, to sow in it the gifts Thou hast given us, and to nurture them so that, like the grain of mustard seed, they grow to their fullness, and become pleasing in Thy sight. Amen.