Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Whoever Sows Bountifully Will Also Reap Bountifully"

Lettuce from our family garden
"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion,for God loves a cheerful giver"(2 Cor 9:6-7)

This was a portion of the first reading from Mass yesterday.  I love Scripture that involves references to working with the soil as the children and I spend a good deal of time in the garden.  It is there that the children see some of God's most beautiful miracles taking place.  Indeed they see how a tiny seed as mentioned in last Sundays Gospel can turn into something so large "that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade." (Mark 4:32)

Tiny lettuce seeds sprouting in the spring
Recently the children and I have been marveling at one of the gifts we have been given in the garden:
a bountiful harvest of lettuce.  It is an interesting back story of how we came to have such lush lettuce.  Several years ago we began trying to grow lettuce with modest results.  Our soil wasn't very good as we had brought some in from our town dump compost.  We found the soil quality poor and many diseases present in the soil.  We tried to grow many things with fair results.  Initially when we planted lettuce it came up but throughout the season it remained tiny, too small to ever harvest.  We continued to add bits of left overs from our meals such as bits of extra vegetable stalks, coffee grounds, egg shells to improve the soil and ash from our fire place.  Constant little bits were added here and there that the children would bring to the garden each day.  The following year we again replanted.  This time the lettuce grew a little better.  Still nothing remarkable but some lettuce grew.  With the warm weather in the summer the lettuce sent up shoots flower and went to seed.  Many would advise you pull out your lettuce at this point.  This process of sending up shoots and flowering is called: "bolting".  Once that happens the leaves become bitter and don't taste good so most gardeners would remove the plants and plant a summer or fall crop of something else.  Well the children and I decided to leave the lettuce.  It flowered and made seed.  As the fall came the seeds seemed to be carried in all directions by the wind.  They have a little fuzzy end that seems to act as a sail with a little dark seed attached.  The children watched all this beauty taking place with wonder.  What would happen to these seeds?
The little seeds in the picture above have now grown
Our fall close of the garden was simple: we left everything that had fallen without a traditional clean out of the garden beds.  In the spring there was a beautiful surprise just as the weather turned warm,  much earlier than most would think to go out and plant, up popped hundreds of little lettuce plants.  They were tiny but very numerous.  In only a few weeks time they grew vigorously, almost like weeds.  They grew in our garden and even the grass.  It was amazing to see so much lettuce and it was so strong.  The children and I were astonished.  Our early attempts had yielded very little.  Yet the children did not give up planting.  They kept working on the soil to make it fertile.  Then they began to do something else different.  They stopped trying to force the garden on to their schedule but rather let the Will of God act in the garden.  They let Him act and simply cared for the little seeds that our Lord had guided.  The children had planted the first seeds but now Our Lord had multiplied them a hundred fold.  They were spread a great distance and were strong and fruitful.  Indeed, it was a wonder to us all and for the children and I, it helped to bring Sunday's Gospel reading to life before us:

"This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come." Mark 4: 26-29)

Other Posts You May Enjoy:
How to Start a Children's Rosary
Finding Answers to Our Spiritual Questions in the Garden
A Long Winter

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