The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:11 New Revised Standard Version)
I will never stop marveling at it. Every spring now, for a long as I can remember (and I have gotten to the point in my life where I have quite a few springs to remember), I marvel at the miracle that if you put a seed in soil, give it some sun and water it regularly, pretty soon a tender green shoot will emerge. And if you keep watering it, making sure it continues to have enough sun and protecting it (best you can) from the pecking of birds and the chop-chop of roving rabbits, then that tender green shoot will grow and grow and in time will offer its thanks by a burst of a colorful flower or with the impossible sweetness of some perfectly ripe vegetable.
This year, I am marveling at Morning Glories. They are my favorite flower, but for the last few years I had neglected to plant them. But not so this year. This year I picked up a double pack of seeds. I soaked them lovingly overnight to aid in their germination. I prepared rich soil, sowed them at just the right depth in the spacious planter and placed it on the deck so that it would get optimal sunlight. I found twine and made a rather rough but good enough trellis for the vine to climb and when all was done, I waited.
It was not long before those tender shoots emerged and over these last few weeks the plant has thrived, climbing exponentially every day. And all the while I felt as proud as a mother hen.
But then the other day, Mark called to me from the backyard. “You know, those morning glories of yours? They really could use some watering!”
And sure enough I went out the back door and my beautiful, miraculous plant was as good as dead. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was because I had neglected to water it for days. Whatever it was, limp leaf now hung on limp leaf. I could almost hear it gasp.
Luckily, (with Mark’s help) I got to it in time. Two watering cans worth and the plants own resilience were enough to bring it back. Next day, it was once again thriving. I learned my lesson. Now I check on it each morning and cannot wait for that first bloom to offer its glory.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well it got me thinking about how it is we tend (or fail to tend) to our own growth and the growth of others.
Everyone has been seeded with something of beauty that is to be our offering to the world. And like my Morning Glory, everyone needs need love, nurture, and protection in order to thrive.
I wonder, what metaphorically would be the soil you need, the water you need, the protection from the pecking of birds and the chop-chop of rabbits you need in order to thrive? How do you tend to the growth of that which has been seeded within you? Who do you rely on to call out when care has not been given and you have grown limp and lifeless? What double portion of watering do you need to feel alive again? What resiliency can you draw upon in parched times so that you too can be restored to thriving?
I invite us in this season of expectation as we lovingly await the harvest of those sweet tomatoes and brilliant bursts of glory, to consider the basics. What do we all need to thrive? How can that which we all need be present in the proportion and frequency in which we all need it? How can we all invite God to be the gardener, so to speak, to help to provide that which we all need with loving attention? And how can we all look out and sound the alert for our brothers and sisters who are not receiving the care they need to thrive?
Let us pray: Holy One: Great Gardener, Tender of Eden, Tender of my Soul. Give me voice to cry out to you when I am limp beyond limp and when life threatens to drain away. Give me voice to sound the alarm when I witness life draining away from others. Water us all with your love and restore us to thriving. Give us the resilience to rise again amidst the struggles we face so that we all may give Gory in the Morning and offer sweetness in the evening. Amen and Amen.