For the past few weeks we’ve been working in the flowerbeds and garden areas around the house, preparing them to receive the seedlings we started indoors months ago. With no precipitation since early February and powerful springtime winds, the desert is even more of a dustbowl than usual. I’m always amazed at how hard the ground gets from one growing season to the next. We asked a local farmer to plow the field around the house. It had been planted in cotton two years ago but we’ve let it sit fallow until we can be assured of enough irrigation water to plant alfalfa.
I found a packet of sweet corn seeds in the shed and decided to dig up a section of the field to see if they will grow.
Even where the farmer had plowed my shovel barely went an inch below the surface. I put the seed packet back in the shed and I got the hose and started soaking. The miracle of water softens even the most stubborn clods. Over the course of a week I spent hours turning the soil, deepening the bed, raking out the stems of old weeds, mixing in the last of the compost and wondering if I would ever get the seeds in the ground. Finally I decided it was ready.
I planned my short rows and poked holes in the surface. I poured a bit of water into each hole, just for good measure, and then put the seed in the holes, one kernel at a time. I marked the rows before I covered each seed with some nice soil from empty flower pots and firmed it lightly over the top. I sprinkled the whole bed and stood back to admire. It’s all up to the Master Gardener now. I can sprinkle the garden every day but otherwise I just have to wait and wonder.
Isn’t that just how it is with so many of our plans and projects, our hopes and dreams? We respond to an impulse or insight or inspiration. We get down to work, confronting the challenges and obstacles, putting our gifts and talents to the task. But at some point we know deep down that “the results are none of our business”.(T.S. Elliott)
So my field of dreams (a favorite movie of mine!) is planted. I even have some melons and squash seedlings ready to put between the stalks of corn. But for now I just wait and watch and water…and dream.
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Today’s Gospel reading is probably one of the most recognizable of Scripture quotes: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall have eternal life.” Sports fans everywhere have seen the signs in the stadiums, even on national tv, but does anyone pay attention?
When I heard the words this morning, I paused after “For God so loved the world…” It’s a lot to ponder: “the world” is too much to wrap a mind around. “The world” includes the little tomato plants that are in shock after being transplanted to the garden last Sunday, the baby horses running after their mamas in the field at the end of our driveway, the sun and wind that quickly dried the sheets and towels I put on the clothesline. All created beings and all created things are “the world” that God so loved.
Watching the evening news the words came back to me again. A single report on the war in Libya made me wonder about the world God so loved. A frantic doctor in an incredibly overcrowded ICU in Misrata, raised his arms in despair as he showed the reporter all the critically ill patients awaiting transfer to a ship that couldn’t enter the harbor because of mortar shelling. A thousand immigrant workers, many sick and injured, waited to board the same ship but were pushed aside by Libyan citizens, desperate women and children, who crushed to get aboard when at last the vessel reached the docks. The misery of these children of God should break our hearts. It surely breaks God’s heart because it is certain that Christ is still suffering in each one, still hungry, still thirsty, still sick, still a stranger…
God so loved the world…He sent his only Son…who so loved us…he sent us into the world. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you…and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit that will last.” (John 15)
How do we do it? Only by the power of God’s love at work in us, allowing our hearts to be broken by what we see and hear and touch- but are unable to fix. Only by the power of God’s love at work in us, impelling us to do whatever we are given to do each day with genuine kindness and patience, refusing the quick criticism or cynical remark. And above all, refusing to yield to “compassion fatigue”. For God’s love-which is in us- never tires. We must commit ourselves to keep our eyes open to see the world God so loved.
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