Our community lost a dear member this past week. There is a big hole in our congregation; one that many of us have pondered in conversation how it will be filled?
I spent time watching the eclipse this week which happened to be on the same day she passed. The world faded to gray for just a moment. I burned my retina trying to see what was happening. Between waiting for the timer to go off for dinner and running outside, I didn’t have time to make a cardboard tunnel. So I sat watching the shadows.
But sitting there on my porch listening to a somber Pandora channel, I looked at a few of our plants which have gone to seed. They are communicating that they are done, spent, tired, and in return they bolted. Bolting is a technical term meaning a plant grows into over-maturity and stops producing the fruit they are meant to produce… for all fruits, vegetables, and herbs really are giving fruit.
They move right into bloom and most of the time those buds give seeds to procure life in the next season.
Many people who know what is happening in our garden proclaim their lack of green thumbs. They say they can’t grow anything or what they do touch dies. Many of these people have pets or kids and have lived more than two decades themselves. They know how to keep themselves alive, so what is the deal with plants?
There is a lack of education. There is a hole. I walked by the local elementary school’s garden this whole year and they let it go… my heart hurt. So many plants bolted and now they just sit there waiting for someone to invest in the seeds who remain.
This person whose presence will be sorely missed didn’t leave that same legacy. The lessons she taught will be passed on – her seeds planted within all of us who even met her once. She learned every visitor’s name; she wanted to see us care intentionally for our community; she made sure we were fed – body and spirit. The hole will never be the same, but it’s not going to be vacant. Her memory lives on in us embodying the actions she taught us.
I don’t relate this to gardening to make light of her life, but rather to point out of how important the cycle of life is. From death comes life — it is all around us. Every day. But so often we don’t get close to it.
So my encouragement today is try experimenting with life. Whether it is planting a tomato, going for a hike, meeting someone new, using your body in a new way, or taking a nap – let life teach you a lesson.
As for gardening – don’t let a failed attempt deter you. Here are a few idea to get you started:
1. space – do you have sun and water? 90% of all plants love sun and water. Most of the time if a plant didn’t thrive, it is because of this.
2. soil – what kind of soil do you have? Is it clay-life? Sandy? Rocky? Different plants will grow in these conditions, but it is also a good opportunity to invest in the land you have. Throw in compost from the nursery or your own; buy some soil to rake in. If it is concrete – consider acquiring a pot and potting soil.
3. grow what you eat – not too long ago someone expressed that they wanted a vegetable garden, but I came to discover in this brief conversation, he didn’t actually like vegetables … might want to work on that first! But in all seriousness, grow what you’re eating. And start small: maybe some green onions, basil and tomatoes (all of which are companion plants).
4. know your seasons – if it’s 90 degrees outside, broccoli will not grow, but zucchini will love you. Be sure to ask your local farmer or nursery what is in season right now. (Or leave a question here.)
Lastly, if not most importantly, read this metaphor into your own life. What spaces are you occupying right now? Do you have nutrients that feed life into you? What is your soil – your foundation – telling you? How can you invest into it? Are you growing in what you love? And knowing that seasons shift and change, what season are you in right now?
For many in my community, we are grieving, but as I look at this list, Jan knew all of these things so well. She was such a strong inspiration to me and many others and I truly wish I would’ve spent more time with her. It is a season with an eclipse, but a season of life to grow in ever the same.