I’m holding the baby onion bulbs in my palm of my hand, admiring their unique shapes and shades of color. It’s an unusually warm day for March in the Midwest. My first year gardening, like the novice I still am, I would have planted every single seed I had, on a warm day like this…but I’ve learned. Slowly. All too slowly. Patience is the gardener’s greatest virtue. Slowly learning patience…Slowly.
Yet these little baby onions I hold in my hand are hardy and I’ve got a warm spot where I can nestle them in the kitchen garden off the back porch. This small square of dirt holds the skeletons of last year’s life and a few signs of life that will soon emerge…life that’s rooted deep enough to return after the cold of winter. Tiny leaves of a mint plant peaking up out of the ground. Weeds here and there, starting to sprout.
I look around me for something to break the ground, so the planting can begin….and then a thought rushes in…soft but strong. The ground has to be broken. I find a sharp rock nearby and I run it though the dark earth, drawing a straight line. Somehow this always happens to me. I’m tearing up. Right there, in the garden, in a mudane moment, a deep truth is emerging. I plop the little bulbs into the furrow I’ve created. Gently covering them with dirt, tucking them in to grow. Ground broken around them. Soon, if these onions want to grow, they too have to break open. There is no other way to grow. That’s how new life comes.
Ann Voskamp says it this way: “The miracle happens in the breaking.”
This simple law of nature is drawing me in, as I sense something deeper happening here. My Pappaw always says that “every physical reality is a spiritual law playing out.” Here in the midst of weeds and dirt and the shadows of past life, I see it. All of creation. Designed to pull us further in…to the truer reality.
“For his invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made.” Romans 1:20 (HCSB)
This is why I garden.
Sure it’s fun to have fresh herbs and flowers right outside my back door…but I could just as easily visit a farmers market or my local grocery. No, I garden because the tending it takes, draws me into the tending God does for me.
I plant a garden to grow my faith.