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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Deep Roots and Shallow Convictions - A Gardner's Observation

Deep Roots and Shallow Convictions – A Gardner’s Observation
            My wife and I are blessed to live in a small rural town of about 350 people who are all (or at least mostly all) good, salt-of-the-earth people.  Many of them are multi-generational farmers who know the joys and heartaches of what it takes to plant in faith, nurture, care for, and partake of either a bounteous harvest or devastating loss.
            Being inspired by our many neighbors when we moved here 13 years ago, and being fortunate enough to have a nice, moderate size corner lot, we have tried our hand at becoming backyard gardeners over the years.  While our intentions are always grand and glorious each spring, the reality of long summer days, relentless weeds, and our own inexperience have led to some variable crops from year to year.
            Nonetheless, it is a fun endeavor to participate in with what time we have amongst our otherwise busy lives, and there’s nothing better than eating fresh produce from your own garden each fall!  We have tried many different gardening techniques, some with good success and others with humbling failure, but the experience has taught me many things throughout the years, a few of which I would like to share with you today.
            One of our yearly favorites is corn.  There is something wonderful about picking cobs of corn fresh off the stalk, cooking them within the first 15 minutes of picking and then eating them slathered with butter, salt and pepper (I’m drooling just writing about it)!  This year was no exception, and when the time came to plant, I took it personally upon myself to plant the rows of corn with tender care.
            As the summer progressed, my excitement grew along with the tall stalks rising up into the sky as I dreamed of the plump, juicy ears soon to be forming.  They were beautiful and seemed to be taller and thicker than in years past.
            But a shocking surprise awaited me when I went out to check the garden just a few days ago.  I couldn’t believe it.  My once majestic stalks lay toppled horizontally across the ground!  What had happened?  Had some group of visiting, nearsighted aliens attempted to make a crop circle in my small rows?  Did Bigfoot pay another visit to my property and decide to make a cozy bed in my soft garden soil? (See this link for the story on my Bigfoot encounter - )

            Actually, it was nothing spectacular at all, as a visit with a wiser more experienced farmer revealed.  The mistake was mine and mine alone.  During planting, I had made the mistake of planting in freshly tilled soil, which was too loose and aerated.  I had also planted the seeds too shallow in the earth by about ½ to ¾ of an inch less than I should have.  The result was stocks of corn that sprung up easily through the soft dirt, without much of a struggle to reach upwards into the light.  And because the seeds were too shallow, the roots did not sink deep enough into the solid base they needed, but instead spread out not far below the surface.  The plants looked beautiful with all their energy able to be poured into the stalks… but without a solid foundation and sure footing, the recent heavy rain and wind storm had easily uprooted them, leaving behind a toppled mess, from which no fruit will be harvested.
            In life when things go too easily for us, we feel as if we are able to flourish without any need for struggle or extensive effort.  We tend to complain when the soil of life is hard and stiff, and we seem planted too deep to get out, but with the consistent struggle to do so and rise above our trials, we form deeper stronger roots, in a more sure footing, which is able to then support us once we reach the sunshine waiting for us beyond the struggle.  But in those easy times, we often fail to make the effort needed to anchor ourselves adequately and when the winds come and the storms beat upon us, we are too weak to withstand the onslaught and fall.
            It is so important to anchor our lives to the “Rock of Salvation” our Savior, Jesus Christ. And make the effort to sink the roots of our testimony in him deep and sure.  Life’s winds will surely howl about us, and without that sure bedrock and footing, the rest of what we appear to be is weak and likely to topple.  We are only as strong as our roots.
            Another brief lesson to share has to do with our raspberry patch.  When we moved to our home, it was thick and overgrown, and could only be effectively cared for around the edges.  The interior was clumped and clogged, and we never seemed to yield as many berries as we felt were possible.
            Over the past few years, we made a concerted effort to thin and shape the bushes into more manageable form.  We attacked them with hedge trimmers, trimming out the old dead canes, putting up stakes and restricting the bushes with twine.  These initial actions may have made the bushes wonder, “Hey, what the heck are you doing to us?  Why are you cutting and gutting me and taking away from what I have worked so hard to become?”  The result however was manageable rows through which we were able to walk, weed, water and fertilize more effectively.
            As a result of this trimming, taking away of the dead and useless parts, we have had several years of incredible berry production and output, which was never realized during the years of cluttered overgrowth.  The plants are now able to produce and fulfill their purpose and potential.

            Hopefully what I’m trying to say is obvious.  If we can make an effort in our lives to cut out much of the unnecessary and unproductive behavior we seem to often engage far too much time and effort in, we will likely find that our lives are much more sweet and fulfilling, as we operate within the rules and guidelines of the gospel principles the Lord has staked out for us.

            May our spiritual roots be anchored solid and deep in fertile soil, and our lives be more focused, unencumbered and meaningful.  Although mistakes will occasionally cause us to miss some of the corn that could have been enjoyed, through God’s plan of happiness for us, we can all enjoy the sweet and savory fruit this life has to offer, if we are allow our will to come more in line with his purposes.
            Now… to enjoy the fruits of our labors!  Mmmmm!!!