Growing Gratitude in the Garden

by Christine Sine
Easterly Growing Gratitude image1

by Sara Easterly,

It made no sense. I’d done everything by the book—nurturing tiny seeds into starts, fertilizing the soil with rich compost and rabbit manure, watering regularly, pruning with love. I’d read countless gardening books, attended seminars through the local nursery, talked with master gardeners, studied what-to-plant-when charts, and, in my downtime, clicked through gardening apps on my phone. I even bought myself some overalls, hoping to channel the inner homesteader lying dormant in me. In other words, I worked to ensure I had control of everything in my garden.

But … by the end of the summer, which included a record-breaking heatwave, I was reminded that incredible effort does not always equal control. Sure, I got lucky with some lush basil and my garden yielded enough cucumbers to make five jars of pickles. But rodents ravaged the snow peas, a disease destroyed my green peppers, bugs besieged my parsley and kale, and crows capsized the corn. Pumpkins, cantaloupe, and tomatillos that once held great promise either withered or suffered from arrested development, unable to get the hydration needed to flourish during the hot, hot season.

While despairing over my gardening woes, I found comfort in scripture:

“Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen

Though the apples are worm-eaten

And the wheat fields stunted,

Though the sheep pens are sheepless

And the cattle barns empty,

I’m singing joyful praise to God.” 

—Habakkuk 3:17-19 (MSG)

I still think a little garden-grumbling was valid. I’m not a fan of toxic positivity and believe in the importance of expressing our frustrations and emotions, lest they build up. And … this reminder from Habakkuk gave me an opportunity to praise God for the many things that went well with my garden—with or without a tangible reward in hand.

For instance, there was the warm sun on my face all season long, the smell and feel of dirt on my hands, and the blessings of being outside. There were master gardeners and other green thumbs God has placed in my life, who were a pleasure to consult with and depend upon (when depending on others is a growth area for me). What about the rodents, bugs, and birds I inadvertently fed? I enjoy their company year-round … is it really so bad to share some of the summer harvest with them? Didn’t God design them to be foragers, and aren’t I asked to be a steward of the earth and all living things?

When I paused to reframe the situation through a lens of gratitude and praise, I didn’t feel that all was lost. In fact, had I thought I had it all under my complete control, I may not have even noticed such a bounty of blessings. How sad that would be—like my tomatillos, my own display of stunted growth.

In what areas of your life are you sensing a lack of control right now? What blessings can you root out when you let go of your own expectations and look for the gifts God is giving in the situation? How might you praise God?

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