I am not much of a gardener. I grow herbs and zinnias. There are a few perennials scattered among the hawthorne bushes and the Japanese maples. They rarely require any attention from me.
Zinnias are annual summer flowers that I remember my grandmothers growing in rows in their gardens alongside turnips, tomatoes, beans, and sweet corn. I think they were planted most likely for two purposes. One was to attract butterflies who would then carry pollen from bloom to bloom as they flittered among the plants. The other reason the flowers got a row (or two) was to steer aphids away from the garden vegetables. Aphids are tiny creatures I never really new much about except that my grandmothers made it known that they were a threat to the harvest. Apparently, aphids are very fond of zinnias so there was the hope they would find them more appetizing than the green beans.
The first two years we lived here I planted zinnias in the big bed out front. It had nothing to do with pollination or aphids. They filled the space, bloomed all summer, and made me happy.
The next year I noticed them coming up “volunteer." I didn’t think that was an option being they were annuals. I had let them stay in the bed long into the fall---to the first frost. When they were pulled up for the winter, their seed scattered from blooms dry from the summer heat.
I am not much into dead-heading.
Since then, every year I have let them volunteer. I stand at the kitchen window in the summer and look out on a colorful bed of zinnia blossoms and butterflies.
Winter blew in yesterday. The flannel sheets are on the bed. There is a pot of soup on the stove.
This morning I decided to gather the zinnias, scatter the seed.
The moist musty odor of interrupted soil triggered memories of my grandmother’s gardens. (I miss those gardens and their bounty.) Tugging at the stems with my gloved hands they gave away easily. Soon I had filled the wheelbarrow five times.
As I did this garden tending, the thought came to me that in God's kingdom, there are times I scatter seed when I don’t even know it. The Holy Spirit is working and creating---using all kinds of circumstances to accomplish His kingdom purposes. Sometimes I know what he is doing, sometimes I don't.
The Holy Spirit draws me into the world to tend to something. I might not see it as anything but cleaning up a mess. But from his perspective, I am scattering seed. Some will fall on fertile soil. Without any preparation or intentionality it happens--- may even seem to be the very opposite of sowing. Only the Master Gardner knows the potential of what has been sown when life has been uprooted.
Everyday I volunteer to do what he sets before me. In turn, he gives me the privilege to sow seed in the most unlikely ways. It is the most freeing way to live---to give Christ my life, submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and let the seeds fall where they may.
All I have to do is put my hand to the plow---or the wheelbarrow. I won’t look back. I don't want to.
Reading from Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts before I began the work out in the zinnia bed this morning, she reminded me of this stunning truth. Today "I get to live."
I get to live in this kingdom, work it, smell it, see it. All of it-----a gift. And yes, I am grateful.
God, He is faithful.
There'll be zinnias next year.
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess. 5:24)