My father grew up on a farm in low country South Carolina. The love of the land never left him.
His parents were not wealthy, but they had the dream of sending their son to college. They scrimped and saved to make that dream come true.
But in the early 20s, a great plague of boll weevils hit the south. Their cotton crops were wiped out. The only way the family survived was to use the money from Daddy’s college fund.
He always told the story sadly because he never did get to go to college. However, he did get to go to business school in Augusta, Georgia.
In addition to being a mailman, he worked for years at his second job as a bookkeeper. Besides gardening, he loved to move numbers around, as if he was solving puzzles.
He had a garden in Charleston and a large garden in Fairfax. He also raised chickens in Charleston, but that is another story for another day.
He spent many hours pouring over seed catalogues and sketching out on paper a map of how he planned to plant.
I saw no reason for such an elaborate plan. When I asked him about it, he explained that some plants grew better together. He also explained how some taller plants would provide shade for others, as they grew.
He said the garden was like God’s world. God plants us where he wants us to grow and He waters, feeds and nourishes us.
He gets rid of weeds that try to take over. He keeps predators from killing us. And He positions us in such a way we can help each other, even if it is just giving shade.
For years Daddy hired a man who came with his mule. The mule pulled a plow that “broke up” the soil in preparation for planting.
When that man retired, Daddy got a push plow and pushed it himself. It required a great deal of strength to break up the hard ground. He said it was worth all the effort to be able to bring new life from the soil. After all, God brought forth life from the ground!
When the crops were planted, daddy nurtured them with Joy. He said he just loved to see things grow.
He told me he thought that about me too. He loved to watch me grow. Perhaps that is why I feel such a connection with nature. We are related and our Father loves watching us grow!
Daddy may have missed his chance to go to college, but he did his best to see that both my brother and I went to college. Not only did he work two jobs and live very sparingly, he also personally tutored us in various subjects. And he tutored many of our friends too. As he said, he loved to watch others grow.
As it got time for each crop to come up, Daddy’s excitement was obvious. He went to the garden as soon as he got up in the morning, when he got home from work, and sometimes even after dark, peeping at his plants to check their progress.
And then came the times of harvest. He said it was very important not to pick them too soon. He said, people get impatient and try to snatch them from Mother Earth before their time and if they do that, it ruins them. They will not be any good to eat.
He also said it was important not to leave them there beyond the time to pick. He said then they just get tough and wither on the vine. He said, like life, there is a time and season for everything, and we need to follow God’s timing on everything.
When those first baskets of corn, beans, peas, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes and other things were brought from the garden, there was great celebration. And there was fruit and nuts too. Pecans, peanuts, walnuts, apples, pears, and others.
Then the real celebration began as we sat in a circle on the back porch and shelled beans and peas or carefully “picked out” (shelled) pecans and walnuts. It was a time of thankfulness to God for all He had provided and a time for us as a family to fellowship and enjoy each other’s company.
When Daddy was old, he continued to work his garden, often planting and harvesting things he himself did not eat. When I asked him why he did that, he said, “I always just like to have something to divide (share) with people. God knows what they like and I get to grow it and deliver it for Him.”
The story of earth started in a garden. God brought forth all kinds of good things, including man, from the ground. Jesus prayed in a garden.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.“
Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
John 20:15 tells us that when Mary was in the garden looking for where Jesus’ Body had been taken, she ran into Jesus, but did
not recognize Him. Why? She thought He was the gardener! He was!
As I look back over my father’s time as a gardener, I now recognize how God My Father was working through my earthly father, the gardener.
I believe they are still working together today, tending to us, nurturing us, protecting us and eagerly watching us grow, so we can feed the world with Love.
And Jesus said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it?
“It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.”