In the litugical year this is new year’s eve. It was in my mind as I headed outside after breakfast on a beautiful New Mexico November day. I had a project to complete before the old year ended and Advent begins. The garden beds were a tangled mess of half-frozen tomato and chile plants, bent-over tomato cages and dry weeds. The old tiller had finally returned from the small engine repair shop. I put on garden gloves for the occasion and prepared to pull up the cages and weeds so I could plow up the soil to be ready for spring.
To my surprise the plants were still producing. There were more chiles than would fit in the pouch of my hoodie- and the hoodie was peeled off quickly as I got to work. At one point I sat down to root through the weeds and leaves in search of cherry tomatoes and it occurred to me that I had sat in that very spot so often last spring and summer, sometimes in search of tiny weeds and other times in search of the dreaded tomato worms. I have watched the cycle of birth-life-death in this little patch. The paschal mystery of the garden.
After picking the end of the harvest and pulling up the stubborn tomato cages–and somewhat reluctantly the still-green vines and plants–I approached the tiller. I don’t have a very good history with getting engines going if there’s a pull-rope involved. Plus, the tiller was sitting where Joe had left it two or three weeks ago after giving me a little demo to show that it was indeed repaired. The first pull resulted in a little cough from the engine, but I smelled gas so I was encouraged. Several pulls later I was ready to quit but then I saw those beds ready and waiting so I adjusted the choke and tried again. Bingo!
I spent the next hour or so walking, pushing, dragging the tiller over the five beds. The ground is good and it was gratifying work. The dead cornstalks from my “field of dreams” went into the compost before I churned up the soil. Finally I raked each bed smooth. It’s like tucking them in for a winter rest.
All the while I was aware of being so grateful: for the beauty and bounty of the earth, for the hours enjoyed in the garden this year, for the gift of being healthy enough to dig it by hand and to till it with the machine, for the wonder of life and its seasons. It was good work.
Now I’m ready to open the door on another Advent. The ground outside has been prepared. It’s time to do the inner work- again.