Last year, my youngest squirrel-child, Isaac, wanted to grow sweet corn. I adore him, and want so much to inspire and encourage any agricultural urges my children have, but I had suffered PTSD over the growing of sweet corn about eleven years prior. Walk with me.
Once upon a time in the land of Hartville, an ambitious gardener went out to sow. She sowed a half-acre of hybridized super sweet corn. She carefully watered, weeded, and hoed the corn, and it flourished under her care and the goodness of the Lord. The ears were full and beautiful, two to a stalk. The night before harvest, the gardener looked with delight upon her corn, thanking God for the bounty she would bring in the next day. At night, the raccoons came. Those varmints ate Every. Single. Ear. May they still suffer the indigestion of their gluttony a decade later. The gardener cried and shook her fist at the sky. “Never again. There are enough other crops to grow,” she said.
But along comes the most charming of little boy-children, and I caved. So, corn it was. We caged it and wrapped it in stock panels and chicken wire (which I may or may not have threatened to electrify in hopes of revenge on some evil raccoons). It grew beautifully, tasted delicious, and we rejoiced over it. Corn, however, requires a lot of room in my garden for the two ears per stalk it gives. I couldn’t help thinking several times of how many tomatoes or green beans that bed would have yielded. Saying “yes“ to corn had meant “no“ to a LOT of other things.
There are a thousand varieties of sweet peas and Swiss chard that remind me every spring of how good it is to garden in this modern age.
I believe “having dominion” includes exploration and discovery. The amazing hybridized seeds that are available to us today are a magnificent way planting the glory of God into our soil. The vast library of advice and inspiration available at the touchscreen of any contemporary gardener is dazzling.
But with every gain, there is something lost – sometimes several things lost.
I envy the gardeners of my grandparent’s generation for their compendium of knowledge. They knew how to preserve foods in ways that baffle my mind. They were natural seed savers, not as a matter of novelty, but simply because it was the circadian rhythm of their gardens. And maybe most of all, I envy that they knew how to plant, how to harvest, when to labor, and when to rest by the stars.
I watch my calendar anxiously and count like mad for our last frost date. I count backwards from it to know when to start my snapdragons in the greenhouse, and I count forward to know which variety of onions and pumpkins to try this year. My forefathers just . . . knew! When the Big Dipper was in position and the third full moon after the solstice spun around, they knew what their ground needed. I wonder if they recognized the peace of mind I imagine that kind of intuitive knowledge would give.
They knew where the North Star is.
By contrast, in 1 Samuel, Saul seemed to follow whatever shiny thing in the heavens caught his eye. He followed donkeys into the wilderness and took advice from terrible counselors and even called on a witch to tell him what to do in battle. A life without a compass is well and truly lost.
What is the magnet that holds me to true North? What determines my “yes“ and “no“? I have pondered long and hard how those who are outside the New Covenant make any moral decision at all. How does a person without a belief in the Almighty God and absolute truth decide “yes“ or “no“ to anything?
I have a hard enough time deciding what’s for dinner on my own! I cannot imagine trying to raise and discipline children, apply for jobs, look for purpose in life without the True and Better Shepherd guiding each moment.
Sometimes, “yes“ is simple. Shall I feed my family tonight? Yes. I am called as a wife and mother; therefore, I am called to care for these people, hence, food. I don’t have to question if that is God’s will for my life.
Other times, it is agonizing. I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Square Halo Ordinary Saints Conference this spring. It was a short weekend conference and only four and a half hours away. I asked Barritt if I could attend, and he said yes. So, I said yes. I had a wonderful, enriching time, but felt the weight of that ‘yes’ every mile and minute. Basking in the glory of poetry dripping from Malcolm Guite and laughing over bowls of noodles with newly met friends meant that I wasn’t settling Catan with my kids or climbing into bed with my husband. A mom and gardener wrestles with the cost and blessings of saying yes.
I don’t have sufficient answers. I am a homeschooling mom in Ohio trying my best to follow an ancient rabbi from Nazareth. There are definitely times when I wander more like Saul. I don’t have the perfect test for determining where to spend my time or money or garden beds, but Christ does. He is a flawless, immutable North Star that has never failed me who has taught me that the cultivating of little boy hearts is the best growing I can do.
The featured image, “Waltzing Wildflowers,” is courtesy of Jordan Durbin and is used with her kind permission for Cultivating.
Second-generation homeschooling mom of five wee snickbuzzards, Jordan Durbin is a maker of humble pottery, fine artist, calligrapher, gardener, pickle maker, baker of all things gluten-inclusive and butter-laden, violinist, vocalist, rabbit raiser, wife of one good man, lover of her blessed Redeemer. She has a Bachelor’s degree in fine art from Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. She is an avid coffee drinker, reader, and published children’s book author and illustrator. She aspires to proclaim the resurrection with every moment of her life.
I am so glad I met you at the Square Halo conference, even though we only had a short connection. Thank you for coming.
So… I’m guessing sweet corn is back on the garden menu this year? 😉 Thank you for a stunning post Jordan, so full of imagery and depth… Made my mouth water!
Jordan, I love everything about this, top to bottom! May we be gardeners together forever!
I am, too! It was such a joy!
Carolyn – I believe so, but some other things have been edited out in order to make more room. No potatoes this year.
Lancia – Oh, yes, friend. There’s a job listed in Nehemiah as “Keeper of the King’s Forest”. It’s my heart-answer for questions like, “Where do you hope to be in a hundred years?”
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