by Rev. Laura Barclay
Since moving to Louisville about two weeks ago and having a backyard, I have been covered in dirt and sweat almost everyday. I have long felt that my grandfather's love of farming and working the earth was an innate part of my being, instilled at birth. Living in a condo without even a patio to have a potted garden made me, on my best days, stare wistfully at nearby trees out the window. On the worst days, I could be spotted prowling the aisles at Lowe's or Home Depot, daydreaming about a future garden in another locale.
The day we got home with our plants and soil, the sun was setting, but my enthusiasm bubbled over. I just had to start now! My husband looked quizzically at my while I hauled plants across the yard and into raised beds.
"Shouldn't you wait until morning?" he asked.
"I know. I'm just so excited though. I want to plan a few things tonight." And there I was--night gardening.
This leads me to two conclusions. First, I'm right where I need to be and the energy and enthusiasm of my actions seem to concur. Second, I must be getting old! Gardening after dark seems like a thrill!
In thinking about the last few weeks, I realize I have learned several things since embarking upon the cultivation of our yard:
1) There is little else in life as satisfying as working up a sweat, being covered in dirt, and seeing the fruits of your labor. This is a satisfaction that will never come from sitting behind a desk. God's vision for humanity to care for the earth and all the creatures in it in Genesis 1 never seems more true than when carefully setting aside earthworms and pill bugs as I dig, putting them back to symbiotically work in my garden. So, especially for those like me who mostly work behind desks, get out there and start a garden or help with a community or church garden!
2) Everything seems connected and anything that is in disharmony with God's vision is seen for what it is: disruptive, unimportant, and out of unity with God and God's people. Road rage? It's a useless expense of hate and energy. Gossiping about that person you don't like? It won't do anyone any good and it will make you feel worse afterwards. Having divisive arguments with a family member or friend about politics? Well, being "right" won't win you any friends or convince anyone of your viewpoint!
3) I am literally stronger now than ever before. Gardening is hard, messy, heavy work. But if you invest in it, your body will thank you after you work through the muscle pains. Your body will strengthen and respond to your efforts. Many Christians get hung up on the 1 Corinthians 6 text, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?" They will preach never to have a sip of wine, yet sit down to Wednesday night church dinners of fried foods, bread pudding and sweet tea. As a result, the Bible Belt is straining from the excess weight. The most obese states are in the South. However, when we understand where our food comes from and have a relationship with the land, we can strike an appropriate balance in our lives.
I look forward to learning more lessons on gardening and life from neighbors, family and friends!