Many parts of the world are still gripped with frozen weather, while other areas are on the fringes of spring time. Here in our little corner of the world, spring has sprung and it's time to plant a garden. The most unlikely candidates for delicate blossoms on the harsh desert landscape are in full bloom. Their beauty is surrounded by the contrast of pokey thorns and needles. When I was a little girl, we watched for the new buds on the roses and waited eagerly for the tulips, daffodils and pansies to show their colorful and glorious faces. We played ventriloquists while pinching the sides of the "mouth" of a snapdragon to make it look like it was talking or singing some dramatic opera. At the dawning of early spring, I prepared my little garden spot next to the garage and waited until my farm-bred parents told me it was time to plant my favorite sweet peas. I experienced, first hand, the law of the harvest and learned that I could reap what I would sow The weeds had to be stopped from getting a choke-hold on the young plants. The seedbed had to be mulched to hold in the moisture and conserve water. Nourishment came from the past year's bean crops and other nutrients and additives, like the fertilizers that produced the pungent smells from "Bandini Mountain." After all we could do, it was God's sun that did the miracles. The seeming magic of photosynthesis could not occur without exposure to the light. If a surprise freeze would come, a blanket of protection had to be placed over the tender plants to help them survive. My garden was a gamble, of sorts, and depended on healthy seeds, water, sun and the goodness of the ground, as well as the watchful care of the ground keeper – mini me.
In my teenage years I began teaching Sunday School. I remembered my little garden and thought how like those tender, young plants were the children in my class. I thought of the variety of places and people they came from and of their needs for physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment. Most of all, they needed the light of the Son in their lives. Some of those planted in my class acted out their needs with disturbing behavior, some were quietly peaceful. Others seemed to work hard at trying their hand at stand-up comedy. All were unique children of God. They looked forward to licking their gummed stars (gross!) and proudly sticking them next to their names on the class chart to display the proof of their presence. Their eyes fixed on me as if yearning to grow in the gospel and hear the stories of Jesus.
In my young adult years I went to sow gospel seeds among the Native American Indian tribes of the northern plains. I took my little Primary group to view Mount Rushmore and explained about what those four men did to be immortalized there in the famous rock mountain. I explained who the images were and the great artistry and courage it took to create the monument. We went in the day time because that was when the magnificent view was illuminated by the sun and every detail could be observed and enjoyed. The setting sun brought outlines of drama to the mountain as shadows fell into indented areas and created more stern looks on the American heroes. At nightfall, the vision was gone. Chief Black Elk disappeared into his undisclosed dwelling place and retired there during the visit from the moon, awaiting another day of light to meet and greet the eager visitors. Lessons were taught about the importance of the sun and the Son.
In the next season of growth, a whooping, welcome cry of a newborn announced that a new source of life had entered our garden of marriage. She came without a memory of where she was planted or who would nourish and care for her tender young body and precious spirit. She grew to love and trust us to nurture her unlimited potential and keep her close to the Son. We did our best to instill in those tender little ones entrusted to us, a love for the Son of God. We nourished their seemingly ever present appetites with healthy foods, protected them as best we could from the pitfalls of life and provided umbrellas, coats, caps and spiritual tools to help them protect themselves from the storms over which we had no control. We encouraged them to stand up straight, drink a lot of water and keep the commandments. We taught them to pray and to know that, with God, all things are possible. We advised them to choose good friends for growing mates. We diligently strove to make our home a refuge from the world in hopes it would shelter them from the unsuspecting "frosts" of life that could kill their spiritual progression. We gave them all the tools that our imperfect abilities could provide. We always had a garden so they could experience the law of the harvest – whether it was just a pot of green onions, tomatoes and aloe, or a small inner city plot of corn, shared with a giant pet rabbit. By the way, rabbits and gardens are only amicable arrangements for the rabbits! A long strip of strawberries along the garage and fence brought some sweetness to the family. One year the "seed" drawer in the kitchen got wet and all of the various seeds were tossed into the narrow neck of land along the driveway. We couldn't park there for a month or two as melons and marigolds and all their friends took over the asphalt. We bloom where we're planted and sometimes underestimate the space needed for growth!
My husband was so meticulous about being weed-less that he would often pull out of the driveway to go to work and spot a stray weed that had escaped the gardener's hand. He'd pull the car over to the curb and jump out. I wondered if he had forgotten his lunch or his wallet. "No!" He spied an enemy weed in the yard and rushed over to extract it from its takeover attempts. We were also that protective of our tender children. We tried our best to teach them to identify the unwelcome "weeds" in our lives and pull them out with the tools of repentance before they got a stronghold in the garden of our hearts. We valued the enormous contribution our children, especially our daughters, made to the nurturing of our family. A favorite and frequent story read in our home was "The Little Red Hen." It was supposedly an old folk tale that hinged on the scriptural teaching that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer, or as stated in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, "…if any would not work, neither should he eat.” That concept now seems to be ignored by some of today's society.
When the last glimpse of my mother's lifeless body was viewed at her funeral, the strains of "In the Garden" could be heard. In that lovely gospel song, C. Austin Miles writes, "And He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am His own." Our Savior is the greatest caretaker in the garden of humanity. He helps us grow into the faithful fruits of His labor. No labor in history was more intense than the work He undertook in the Garden of Gethsemane when he bled from every pore for our sins and sorrows. The atonement was the most valuable garden experience possible. Along with the gift of resurrection, these gifts are two of the most magnificent blessings given to mortals. They provide eternal possibilities. Without them, our lifeless earthly tabernacle, even if shrouded in the finest attire, would be all dressed up and have no place to go. Thus, Christ "dispelled the awful gloom that else were this creation's doom," as declared in the Hymn "While of These Emblems We Partake."
My heart is filled with an assurance that the Son of God is the key ingredient to eternal growth. His light can nourish us as nothing else can. When jealous, non-believers snuffed out his mortal repository of light, He returned to His Father, cranked up the wattage and was resurrected as a glorious powerhouse of hope for the everlasting joy of mankind. When the gardens of plants or people die, they are condemned to a life- sentence of decaying back into the dust. The death penalty is eminent. However, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)
What's up? Eternal possibilities through Jesus Christ. According to Romans 8:38-39 "…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." My testimony is that God lives! He nurtures us with all we need to grow to our full potential, fulfill the measure of our creation and reap endless blessings. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Turn the Son-light on in your life, soak up some rays and feel the abundance of nourishment from God's garden of love and salvation. He has prepared a place of sweet peace – a mansion (probably with a garden) for each of us. Let's live, learn, blossom and nurture our goodness so that we can choose our neighborhood. – Nani's Notes