I took Jonathan, my three-year-old, to our church garden Saturday morning. It was a perfect gardening sort of morning. Not too hot yet, but it would be later. There was a little breeze through the tops of the trees. The dogs who had come with the other volunteers barked every once in a while, just to let us know they were there.
Preschoolers are not particularly helpful in the garden, at least not in the traditional sense. I gave my son a shovel and told him he could dig anywhere in the big dirt patch well beyond the neatly planted rows, but when I settled in to weed the green beans, he appeared beside me, a freshly plucked potato plant in his hand. “Here!” he said proudly, “I picked it. You hold it!” We took it back to the other potatoes and replanted it, hoping for the best.<
We were an inter-generational group – another little boy younger than Jonathan, all the way up to a couple of faithful volunteers in their mid-eighties. (Their secret to long life, apparently, is a regular game of tennis and this weekly session in the garden.) After rescuing the potato plant, I sent Jonathan over to one of the older ladies who was working her way up and down the rows with the water hose. She showed him how to aim the hose at the base of the plant, and together, they made their slow and gentle way across the garden.
We have a tiny garden plot at our house, but it’s fairly pathetic: a couple of basil plants that are doing okay, and a tomato plant that looks good now but about which, based on experience, I’m not optimistic. So I’m glad that Jonathan gets to spend some time in this garden that’s growing well. I’m glad he gets to see the work it takes to turn a plot of land into fertile ground, the patience required for picking fragile peas off their vines. I”m glad he’s learning that potatoes do not grow in French Fry containers but start in the dark soil of the earth.
After we’d worked for awhile, when the sun was getting hot, we took a break and stood together int he shade for a blessing for the garden. Jonathan found a spot on at the bench next to the woman he’d been watering with, and someone read from the first chapter of Genesis.
Then God said,
“Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so…
And it was good.