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Caitlan Rangel reflects on how watching and waiting in the garden reveals how God cultivates holiness within us.

My family’s little garden always bears fruit by way of the lessons it teaches me. As Southern Californians, we get the great gift of planting in the fall to harvest in the winter. The winter garden is a special treat — it bears peppery arugula, intensely purple beets, sweet broccoli, and carrots perfect for picking by my children. This season, the garden is teaching me about how we wait. An aptly timed lesson (Holy Spirit, you are always on point) as we enter Advent, the liturgical season of watching and waiting. 

Sanguine (temperament) that he is, my son talks a lot and expresses how he feels from one moment to the next. The reality of waiting is often the tragedy of the moment: “I can’t wait anymore!” I’ll respond, “You’re right. Waiting is not easy.” 

It can be hard to accept waiting. It is difficult for my children to wait for exciting events on the horizon. (For me, too!) As adults, it can be even more difficult to wait as we bear the crosses of life. Periods of seeming silence from God. Uncertainty at work. Sickness. Marital struggles. Infertility. Financial stress. Sorrows we experience in life cannot be done away with by the click of a mouse or tap on a screen. Instead of detest our crosses or become discouraged by them, what can we do? 

Let’s walk back to the garden together. 

We planted several sunflowers from seed in our garden in the late summer after a workshop at a local farm. The planting time was not ideal, given that we planted sun-loving flowers on the cusp of shorter days and cooler weather. We’ve had to wait much longer for our flowers to bloom.


sunflower bud


Over the past two and a half months, my children and I have cultivated a daily habit of watching and waiting for our sunflowers to bloom. In the waiting, we have witnessed seed become seedling and stalk shoot up past the fence. We have marveled together at how the buds unfurled a bit at a time, and opened their intricate and bright faces to the sky. Waiting has grown us in patience, gratitude, and awe for God’s creation and our collaboration in it.


sunflower beginning to open 


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The garden gives me renewed hope and faith that God is working on me in the waiting.

I am in a prolonged season of waiting outside of the garden. I sometimes get discouraged by it. But the garden reveals something of God’s ways. The garden gives me renewed hope and faith that God is working on me in the waiting. 




The waiting time is holy because of how it forms us. Waiting is not easy, but it compels us to return again and again to the garden. Again and again to our Blessed Mother, and to the feet of Jesus. If God can bring such beauty from out-of-season sunflowers, imagine what He can do with us, His crown of creation.




Copyright 2021 Caitlan Rangel
Images copyright 2021 Caitlan Rangel, all rights reserved.