The story of Pentecost has fascinated me since I was a little girl. Like the Tower of Babel in total reverse, tongues of fire hovering over the disciples, no barriers to telling each other the beautiful story of God in Jesus, this story preaches to us the Good News of restoration, of things coming around right. We tell each other this story every year in church. And when we are willing to look closely at the world around us—in our own backyard, even, we see the birth and grace all around.
Out in my backyard, despite needing a deep weeding, the tomato plants and pepper plants that were bitten pretty hard by a sneaky late frost have decided to thrive anyway. The corn, beans, and squash—my goodness, you could almost watch them grow. I need to go nip back some of the blossoms on the spaghetti squash plants, otherwise we might have them coming out of our ears.
We haven’t had to buy salad greens at the store in a month. Turnips are starting to work their way out of the dirt and demand entry into the menu.
We tried to climb and pick some cherries from the tree we didn’t even knew still bore fruit.
I noticed them on accident while I was going to check on a length of garden hose that had snagged up on a tuft of grass. Our ladder proved less than satisfactory to the task, but we picked enough to make a half pint of jam.
Leaving the bulk of the fruit for the birds and critters felt right—we didn’t plant this tree, or tend it, we were just sharing what it freely offered with each other. Like the steadfast love of Jesus, they appeared right on time, because we’d just used up the last of the grape jelly our neighbor gave us a few weeks ago.
Our garden plants all started out as seeds we ordered, pinched, and planted in bathroom cups in January an and February. We hovered over them, wondering if we were doing all we could to help them grow—so we can feed ourselves a little bit differently, and for the joy of being outside.
They didn’t need much from us, really. Just light, water, and clean soil…and time. We started moving plants in April, and it was exciting to watch the outside beds fill up, to see the outline of what we were aiming to grow. The tilling and weeding of the beds were a labor of love. And taught me a new appreciation for my heating pad, the inventor of ibuprofen, and every single person who has ever tried to grow even a smidge of their own food.
Jesus is the great sower of seeds and Lord of the harvest. How I feel about these plants in my garden is merely a fraction of the way Jesus feels about me and how I am growing. Thoughts like that ought to crack us wide open, teach us new words to share, and give birth to something beautiful and grounded in grace and mercy. Watching the Holy Spirit hover over the face of our garden during this growing season has been one of the most miraculous gifts I’ve ever been given.
Growing anything—families, faith, churches, relationships, partnerships, all of it—connects us deeply to the creative identity of God. Dirty fingernails are good for us, having to get down on our hands and knees (as we are able) to smell perfume of fresh soil, forcing ourselves to trust that something lovely and lifegiving is happening just out of our sight when we bury those seeds—this set of actions humbles us. We have to count, measure, and focus on something outside ourselves.
When we participate in growth, I believe we climb close to the heart of Jesus.
Are you gardening this year? What does it teach you about growing as a disciple?