Hot and full-blown, summer comes breathlessly into the hills. She blows her sultry breath over the countryside, coaxing the gardens to grow and flourish, and covers the hills with thick, green underbrush.
The early garden crops seem to grow overnight, while the weeds grow almost as fast as the vegetables. It is a continuous chore to keep the weeds and pests from taking over the garden. We are enjoying plenty of tender yellow squash and crisp green cucumbers, while the half-runner green beans are not far behind.
Gardening is such a rewarding task. There is something that satisfies the basic need in our heart to provide food with our own hands. I am not able to work in the garden now, but I still have longing to get out in it. I loved getting right down in the rich soil (no gloves for me) dropping the tiny seeds and setting out the tender plants.
Who could imagine that such a tall stalk of corn, with its full ears, or the rambling bean vine covered with tender green beans, could ever have sprung from just a little seed? Cultivating the garden, pulling out the invading weeds and hoeing fresh soil up around the growing plants was a job that I always enjoyed.
I didn’t feel that way when I was a kid at home, and working in the garden was one of our dreaded summertime chores. It is much easier now, with the garden tiller to work up the ground and making it easier to hoe. Daddy used to hook up the horse, Old Topsy, and run the plow through the garden, while we kids hoed along behind him. There would be great clods of soil that we would have to pound with the backs of our hoes and break it up so that we could hoe around the plant.
I don’t know why, but the sweat bees used to be much worse than they are now. (Maybe it’s because I stay inside!) We dreaded those pesky little bees that targeted the bend of our elbows and the back of our necks to loose their stinging darts. Once you mashed one, it seemed to drive the others into a fury and they would attack even more furiously.
Maybe everything seemed harder when you were a kid, but I got no joy out of gardening then. The sun seemed hotter, the rows longer, and I thought that my whole summer was going to be spent in that endless garden.
After I was older, I took pride in the fruits of my labor. The bowls of crisp, fresh lettuce and green onions, dressed with hot vinegar and bacon grease, made the labor worthwhile. I’ll never forget one spring when we had friends visiting from North Carolina. I picked a big bowl of fresh lettuce, and my friend asked, “Are you going to kill that lettuce?” I had never heard that expression, but if you pour hot bacon grease and vinegar on it, it’s bound to kill it!
I have been thinking about working in the garden, and remembering how easy it is to pull out the weeds while they are little and tender. The roots disengage easily, and it is a simple task to pull them out between the plants. If they are not pulled out when they first appear, it takes a real effort to get the roots loose from the ground.
Then, too, if they are left until they grow to maturity, it is almost impossible to yank some of them out. Lamb’s quarter and pig-weed (amaranth) in particular are two weeds that put down such a root system that they resist the most vigorous attempts to uproot them.
It is the same way with things that we allow to grow in our hearts. Wrong thoughts and attitudes, unresolved anger and grudges, are all weeds that we need to nip in the bud. They are easy to uproot if we pull them out as soon as we are aware of them. If allowed to grow, it becomes harder and harder to get them out of our minds and hearts. If unchecked, the root will grow rampant until it is impossible to dig them out without God’s help.
Wrong thoughts and attitudes will grow into resentment and bitterness, while anger and grudges turn to unforgiveness and hatred. The root system will overgrow into our hearts until we become an embittered and miserable person, whose life can only bear a crop of malice and hatred.
No wonder the Bible warns us of letting any root of bitterness spring up and trouble us, because the person who allows these “wild weeds” to grow in their hearts is the one who is directly affected by them. We can hold a grudge or unforgiveness in our hearts against someone who may not even be aware of it, and the repressed anger in us can eat us alive.
These thoughts ran through my mind as I pulled up the little wild morning glories before they became entangled around the flowers in the flower bed, and uprooted the ground ivy and other tiny little weeds.
I pray for good things to grow in my heart, such as more love, mercy and compassion for others; long-suffering and true forgiveness which are the gifts of the Spirit and cultivated by Him.
THE LORD GOD PLANTED A GARDEN
By Dorothy Frances Gurney
The Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light unfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven,
That the hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even’
God walked with the first of men.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth—
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
When the dew is sparkling on the garden, and sunbeams are blessing the cornstalks, it is a great time to walk there in the cool of the morning. Wild morning glories are beginning to entwine the corn, with their velvety blossoms turned toward the sun. It is easy to imagine God walking with Adam then, and enjoying the refreshing coolness. We can still walk with God then, and commune with Him. It’s a wonderful beginning for a new day.