But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, says the LORD of hosts. For there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, the ground shall give its produce, and the skies shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. Just as you have been a cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong. – Zechariah 8:11-13
Late spring/early summer is one of my favorite times of year. It’s also the time of year I struggle most with maintaining a reasonable pace and not over doing-it. There’s an urgency to wring the most out of every second of beautiful day I can, because I know that winter will be here before I know it. Our travel calendars are all set. And I’m hip-deep in deadline season at work.
And then I have to remember that this amazing season of summer isn’t meant to be consumed in giant bites and hungry gulps and rushed thanks offered before rushing off to the next oasis of rest or relaxation or recreation without really being fully present. Summer flies fast enough on her own, without our helping to go faster. Our job in summer, and anytime we are able to intentionally slow down and assess and rest, is to do just that. To be faithful to the habits of resting and relaxing and really seeing what is happening inside, around, and alongside us.
Each time I walk through the gate of our garden, I see something new. The tiny watermelon, the brave little spaghetti squash plant that has volunteered from somewhere in the compost pile, the first cobs forming on our corn plants, and the little fat carrots we are just beginning to harvest all remind me that time is real and its passage is always marked by growth. Some of that growth, we can almost see in real time. And other growth remains hidden to us until the right time comes for it to flower and fruit.
I know that I have to tend to the weeds in at least one bed a day, and not just blitz them all on the weekends, otherwise my back will scream at me for the whole next week. There just always seems to be something else to do, and it’s hard to focus on just one thing, because I don’t want to skip a bed and make a plant struggle. Struggling plants don’t produce well, and these plants mean literal food on our table. I have a vested interest in maintaining them. But I have to do it every day, for the good of the plants and the good of my body.
I think about this in terms of my heart, too. God knows the timing of my growth better than I do, and prunes and feeds me in ways that are beyond my understanding to keep me growing well. I have to tend the beds of my heart, and weed out the garbage that threatens the tender vines and leaves of my life that God has called to be fruitful. And as flower turns to fruit, I am learning to offer that first and most hard-fought harvest right back the One who has sowed the seed, whether the fruit being born is a calmer heart or the perfect tomato. Both are miracles that I am bearing witness to, and God is in the midst of both.
The prophets talk to us over and over in agricultural terms, giving us instructions for feasts and fasts for families and communities. Since we’ve been out on the farm for the last year, I have begun to understand them in a more dirt-under-my-fingernails way. Summer is so lush, so deep, and it is balm to our hearts. And in celebrating the fullness of it, we must guard against rushing through it, and instead let the long days help us stretch the time out, slow it down, and savor this sweet season with songs of praise and thanksgiving in our hearts. This is one of the ways we can partner with God in growing our hearts, our faiths, and our families. Thanks be to God for this beautiful time.
How do you see your own growth mirrored in growing things?