More Lessons from the Garden: Sharing Grace
A couple of years back, I returned from a summer trip and was eager to see how the garden had fared during my absence. When I had left, the tomatoes were starting to climb their cages, the green bean bushes were just starting to fill out with leaves. As I approached the garden, I saw that the tomatoes were coming along well despite the weeds that had cropped up while I was away. As I got closer, I could see over the tomatoes, and there it was! Where there should have been five beautiful rows of green beans stood a crop of scraggly stems decimated to two or three leaves each. My heart sank. For those of you who have heard me speak of my strong dislike for store-bought "squeaky" green beans, you know this was quite a loss for me. Something had made a rather large meal of an entire crop of my garden - my favorite crop.
As I stood there, I remembered a story I read several years back that was written by a woman remembering how she would help her Native American grandfather plant his garden. As she described the experience, she noted some of the odd things that her grandfather did. For instance, if a volunteer plant had come up in the middle of the garden, he would leave it there run his rows around it. The volunteer plant was to be respected as grace from the land. He also did not worry much about the deer or rabbits that would come for a snack or a meal or two in his garden. He always said that, if you didn't have enough to eat after the critters were done with their portion, you should not blame them but yourself for not planting enough to share in the first place.
It was hard to agree with his rather uncommon viewpoint as I stood there looking at those pitiful green beans, yet, looking back, I think there is some wisdom to it. He saw the grace in the harvest - that the earth should give us anything, even if we did some work for it, is pure grace. Tilling the earth and planting seeds does not entitle us to what the earth give us - life. That is grace from God. It is grace for us just as it is grace for the rabbit or deer that happens to come across a rather lush plot of green beans when no one is looking. It is grace, and grace is meant to be shared, not hoarded.
It reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the farmer who hired folks to work in his vineyard, some early in the morning, some at noon, and some late in the afternoon. When quitting time came and the farmer paid each worker a full days' wage - enough to put dinner on the table that evening - those who were hired earlier in the day were angry that those who joined the work later got the same pay. The farmer responded, "What does it matter to you if I show them grace? I have still given you what I promised."
Those green bean plants recovered and produced a crop, perhaps not the bumper crop I had hoped for, but a good enough crop nonetheless. That is grace - that we should all have what we need - and grace is meant to be shared, not hoarded.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Living in Community
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