Today I awoke and looked out the bathroom window to view the garden. I noticed it had rained overnight and throughout this day it has been a mix of rain and sunshine. Since putting nitrogen on and re-planting spots in the sweet corn patch I've found myself looking over to the garden, wondering if the nitrogen I put on the corn is going to help it along, wondering if I've put on too little, or too much.
As I spend this time noticing the garden along the way my mind also began to think about the investment resources in this garden: gas for the tractor, plants, starter fertilizer, lime, nitrogen, gas for the lawnmower, time (lots of time). Then I start thinking about how the garden can be improved, how its fertility can be upgraded. It would be great to add a couple of inches of sand, a couple of inches of bio-mass (manure or something like it), a watering system. A cultivator for the back of the tractor would be a great addition too.
Somewhere in this thought process a question arises that Jesus said we ought to ask, "what's it going to cost?" (Jesus said we need to consider the cost of being a disciple before we throw in with him, it may cost us more than we're willing to pay.) Maybe I'm wrong, but a cost-benefit analysis of the situation seems to reveal that the input prices can seldom be returned in the value of the produce itself. Years ago I asked my mom why we were not growing peas anymore. She said the cost of peas from the store always beat the time value of picking and shelling the peas from the garden. As I add up all the costs of the garden, and notice all the investment of my neighbor who is a master gardener, I start to think, that could be true for almost every garden.
That is if the only return on investment is the fruit of the garden itself. But there is more than the fruit we pick that is in the return column. There's the challenge of seeing if something will grow out of a piece of dirt that has only grown weeds and grass. There's the joy of organizing a plot of ground. There's joy in seeing plants emerge from the soil, weather wind and rain and blistering sun. There's joy in the sweat of the brow, in participating in and practicing the art of creation. There's joy in knowing that all these efforts must be graced with mercy, for without God's care, these plants will not grow (the drought of Elijah). There's joy in the serenity of air and time unmolested by the news of the world. There's joy that while the garden takes time and effort, if we enter into prayer, the greater work may take place in the soil of our souls.
So we garden in anticipation of the fruit, the fruit we taste with our eyes, mouths and souls.