Adele has a garden box off the back deck. It is 4′ by 8′. Not much. She loves a garden. I love her. So, I built it for her. But, from that day until now I’m pretty much out of this garden-loop. It’s all her thing. She calls it dirt-therapy. (I take my therapy in a cup with hot fudge on top)
Here is how things look just off the deck from March until May each year:
Adele covers that little box with plastic during the pre-planting season so the sun will warm the soil. After it is warm enough to uncover, she spends hours moving dirt from one side of the box to the other (“turning the soil,” she calls it).
During this process of preparation she will pull every little scrap that looks like it could somehow be a weed from the ground and inspects it like a dermatologist looking through a magnifying glass.
When it is time, she meticulously plants seeds. I would just scatter the package if it was left up to me, but she takes them out of the packet one at a time, inspects them with the same care, plows tiny holes with her finger, drives them into the ground, and brushes the dirt back over them like an archeologist moving soil at a history-changing dig site.
I can hardly stand to watch the whole process. It makes me nervous. But she persists. She loves it.
Watch is the key to what comes next. Every day. Multiple times a day. Adele steps out on the deck and watches… quietly… hopefully. Every inch of those few feet of boxed garden gets reviewed as thoroughly as a six-year old kid at the New Orleans Airport.
But she doesn’t wait as one without hope. Somehow she knows what’s happening just under the surface… the seed is germinating, though we can’t see it.
Now, I’m no more a scientist than I am a farmer, but I can Google with the best of them and here is what I’ve learned about germination:
Germination is that secret stage in the life-cycle of a seed when the growth starts. It is a balancing act where seed and moisture and temperature all come together at just the right time, in just the right way.
Under natural conditions (like Adele’s garden box), we don’t get to see this happen… it occurs in the dark recesses of the soil.
The very first part of the plant to emerge from the seed is called the radical. This radical ultimately becomes the root of the plant. On the other side of the seed is the plumule (or shoot), which creeps out 2nd and makes a b-line toward the surface and the sunlight.
That’s when my honey goes crazy with excitement… when she sees the shoot emerge from the ground. That’s when she knows with her eyes what she has known in her heart for weeks: the seed is alive. The garden box was merely a holding-cell for the transformation.
It is Saturday of Holy Week… Easter is on Sunday. Friday was Good Friday – the day of crucifixion. The metaphor of the garden box couldn’t be more real to me – to my soul – than it is at this very moment.
The seed fell to the ground on Friday.
The shoot will reach up from the ground on Sunday.
But today is filled with new meaning for me as I watch and wait. Today is the radical. Today is the day of germination.
It seems quiet, outside the tomb. But just like Adele watching the garden box, I find myself anxiously watching to see with my eyes what I know in my heart is occurring: Life – the eternal variety – the abundant sort. It’s coming!
This is the blessing of Saturday during Holy Week – to exercise faith. To choose to believe in spite of the physical evidence. To trust.
I guess, in a way, every Sabbath Day holds this potential for me. Unfortunately too many of those days gets filled with errands and household tasks that have waited the week.
But, not today. Today I will wait, watch, hope, trust. Today is that perfect day when all the ingredients for my salvation come together. Today is the fullness of time. Today I choose to believe the radical. How about you?