When it comes to a vegetable garden’s bounty, summer is an embarrassment of riches. Refrigerator drawers overflow with a rainbow of food just waiting to be chopped, sliced, and enjoyed. Sunny kitchen window sills become prime real estate for tomatoes that still wear collars of green.
But it doesn’t happen overnight. My garden began on a cool morning in late May when I pushed half a dozen straggly tomato plants into the ground. It took weeks before they sprouted bright green buds and weeks more before small green globes appeared on the vines.
As with so many things in life, the progression was slow, and the results even slower. I grew bored of the daily watering, weeding, and caretaking. I got tired of repeatedly hauling the hose out and then winding it back up again. But eventually the plants grew big enough that I needed to stake them up, and finally a warm, pink blush appeared on the fruit.
The middle of July revealed progress that seemed to come out of nowhere and August left me ridiculously rewarded with daily harvests.
A garden requires us to be diligent over time, in order to reap the benefits of a rich harvest. Similar to tending a garden, we are called to nurture our relationships for the long haul. To consistently sow mercy and grace into daily life, without the expectation of an immediate reward.
In a letter to the Galatians, Paul said, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NRSV)
When life is hard, it’s easy to grow weary, and it’s tempting to give up. To take shortcuts and let things slide a little.
It’s not easy to forgive instead of holding a grudge but in doing so, relationships are nurtured and they grow healthy and strong.
It can be exhausting to love my neighbor as myself when it means being friendly to the man whose dog poops in my lawn. However, we’re called to continue sowing the seeds of love, and kindness in order to experience God’s endless harvest of forgiveness and peace in our lives.
If I am to enjoy the bountiful harvest of autumn, I must first remain faithful in the other seasons.
Enrich with honesty and compassion the soil in which friendships are planted. Tend to them often with my time and attention. Be willing to prune out areas which are not fruitful, and care for those who are not yet strong enough to care for themselves.
If the autumn harvest I seek comes up empty now, is it because I was not obedient to God’s call then?
Seeing summer come to an end is often sad but having been a good steward of the opportunities given, autumn brings overwhelming blessings from a season of hard work. A season that was sometimes tedious, often tiring, but yields a satisfying, fruitful harvest.
Along with the practically implied responsibility of enjoying at least one perfect BLT.