Gardening Our Soul
by Cay A. Gibson
A springtime breeze danced happily across my brother-in-law’s patio. We were leisurely doing nothing; simply swaying in glider swings, tapping our lazy tennis shoes on the back of the family dogs that lay at our feet. My brother-in-law passed out glasses of lemonade. The girls and their cousins hopped on the stepping stones strewn across the rock garden and pretended it was a river wide and deep and they must not fall in.
We contemplated the empty lot between our two homes where once a brown building stood no more. A discussion began amongst the family members about what to do with this possible gardening plot:
Brother-in-Law (who works out-of-town during the week): "Just so you all know, I can't be responsible for this. So, if we do this, let's go over who is going to do what. Okay, Jan says she'll turn the soil. We'll get Corey, David, and Rory to till it. I'll buy the seeds. Cay said she'll weed it..."
My Husband: "Cay said she'll weed it?" (A laugh catches in his throat.) "More like she'll assign five kids to each take a row."
Me: "Nothing wrong in teaching the children to work for their daily bread."
Our niece, who was getting married in less than a month and wouldn’t be living next door anymore, contributed: "I'll be in charge of watering it."
My Husband: "I'll harvest it."
Sister-in-Law skeptically: "I give this project one week."
Me: "You think?"
Sister-in-Law, more firmly resolved: "Middle of June, tops."
As visions of June heat and July torridity shimmered in imaginary waves across the lawn and our mind’s eye, we fell silent. The lazy pat-pat of sneakers, the squeak of the glider, the grating of lawn chairs over the cement slab, and the laughter of children accompanied the music of the wind chimes.
I didn’t see the Little Red Hen anywhere amongst this crew. And I admit now, writing this, sharing this, and looking out across a freshly mown lawn; I am embarrassed to say the family plot still sits…rich with fertile possibilities, succulent with new clover, green with an abundance of life, and lazy with fermented sloth and indolence.
Are our souls like this unplowed, untended, unplanted family plot of earth? Do we sit and, like Burt Reynolds’ character in the 1978 blockbuster The End, make huge promises to God for improving our spiritual life. We promise God that we’ll work harder, we’ll be good, honest, upright, we’ll stop lying, we’ll tithe more, we’ll go to Church more often, and we’ll learn the Ten Commandments.
Only, while padding our lazy tennis shoes on the edge of the field, we never rise to the task. We never get up and put our best foot forward. We wait. We sit. We pray. We dream. We become slothful. And we wonder why God doesn’t give us a more spiritual life
We want the garden. We want the fruit. We desire the harvest. And, all the while, God wants to give it to us. He even gives us the necessary tools, but what do we
do in preparation of receiving this garden? For receiving Him? Do we use the tools He gives us?
Daily Mass and Perpetual Adoration await us in silence. Rosaries lie tangled in jewelry boxes and bureaus. Retreats are planned and offered. Spiritual books sit in warehouses barely seeing the light of day while romance and science-fiction novels are churned out like butter onto the streets. Confessional curtains barely whisper in the quietness. Novenas and the rite of Christian prayers are cited sporadically. Psalms go unsung and Scripture gathers dust. Virgin candlewicks lie exposed and vulnerable. The coffers of saints are unheralded. Blessed water stagnates and evaporates.
No other religion offers the elements and tools sought by human worshippers as they seek to nurture a relationship with their Savior the way the Catholic Church does. Yet so often we do not anchor the yoke or apply our hand to the plow. We do nothing to till the soil of our soul and, all the while, the rich, fertile ground sits and waits as the possibilities and opportunities to grow are left unfurrowed and uncultivated.
Come forward and see what God has laid on the gardener’s bench for you. Uncoil the rosaries and hoe the rows, brush back the curtain from the confessionals and pull out the weeds, read God’s gardening manual, recite the prayers and sing the psalms the Hebrew slaves sung while in the hot field, light the candlewicks as you work well into the dark, open the Bible and sow the seeds, refresh yourself with life-giving water, then gather the fruit into your coffer and sing God’s praises.
RICH VEGETABLE DISH
- 2 tablespoons lite butter or olive oil
- Yellow squash cut diagonally
- Spears of asparagus
- Fresh uncut snow peas
- Large green, yellow, and red peppers cut diagonally
- One onion cut in rounds
- Cream of mushroom soup
- Cheddar Cheese
Saute vegetables (except peppers and onion) lightly in melted butter or olive oil. Lightly spray a large baking dish with cooking spray and layer vegetables in it. Top with cut peppers and onion. Pour cream of mushroom soup over vegetables. Bake at 350 degrees for 30. Sprinkle with layer of cheddar cheese and bake an additional 6-8 minutes until melted.