Gardening and God

Some years the garden is a marvel to behold, a miniature Eden, full of fruit in season, lots of it, plenty to eat, plenty to share, plenty to store for the long winter. The plants blossom like girls in party dresses, the stalks grow like twelve-year-old boys in new jeans. The sun is right, the rain is right, the breeze is right, and the varmints stay away.

I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those years.

Something goes wrong every year. I got the garden in late because we moved to a place where there was no garden spot and we had to prepare the soil; the spring was cold and wet; the summer was cold and wet; the fall was cold and wet. Deer/raccoons/mice/squirrels/sheep/chickens ate the seedlings and fruit. The frost came late/early. Cutworms moved into the neighborhood. Some helpful person picked all the beans/peas/tomatoes before they were ready. Well, you get the picture.

This year we had beautiful plants – tall, strong stalks and lots of blossoms. But the fruit didn’t set, except for a few peppers. Then the peppers disappeared. Squirrels had decided that our garden was an early morning snack stand, and the baby tomatoes and little peppers were just vanishing. I finally put down soap chips and dog hair, and they have stopped trying to take everything, but that might be because the tomato plants got too tall to be raided! We did have some really good peppers and the herbs, except the parsley, have done well. So it isn’t a total loss, and it does look really nice.

God made squirrels, too. I like squirrels in their proper environment – that is, outside my garden. They may be close relatives to rats, but I like some rats. Rats are smart and funny. Squirrels may not be very bright, but they are amusing. (I won’t mention their wars in our backyard, though. They can be nasty with each other.)

We had counted on homegrown food to help offset the grocery store costs. We didn’t get much. But so far, God, in His bounty, has provided. We pray that He continues to provide. I guess the big issue is, does our consumption mean someone else won’t have enough? Does our Standard American Diet deprive someone else of food?

This is part of our pacifism, that our actions do not harm someone else. We have found out that some things we enjoy are very costly in the distribution of food to others. Beef, for instance. Grain and water go to feed cattle that become hamburgers and supermarket steaks. That grain is desperately needed to feed people in impoverished, drought-stricken countries. Beer is another environmentally expensive choice. It uses a large amount of grain and water, too. And the shipping costs are high – fuel that could be saved or utilized in more practical ways.

I used to buy ethanol for my car years ago, then it dropped off the market. Now it’s back as bio-fuel. It’s made from corn, mostly. This is not really a good alternative to petroleum. It ties up acres of productive farmland so we can drive cars. Do I need to say that people are starving, people who would gladly eat the corn we are grinding up into car-fuel?

Remember the parable of the talents? The master of the estate gave his stewards certain amounts of money to invest and manage, and when he came back, two of the stewards had made good use of the money. But the third had buried his in the ground, and was punished for wasting what his master had entrusted to him. Is our selfish use of the vast resources of North America the same thing, burying what God has entrusted to us in our own desires? Shouldn’t we be investing the bounty of the Lord in the Lord’s people, the poor?

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