By Barb Arland-Fye
My husband Steve opened packets of flower seed sent to us in the mail over the past couple of years and sowed them in a small strip to border our vegetable garden this past spring. He sowed the seeds somewhat indiscriminately and trusted God with the results. “I didn’t want to waste the seeds,” Steve told me. “I wanted to give them a chance.”
Blooms of pink, purple, orange, yellow and white color our flower garden, making God’s presence even more vivid in our front yard. We delight in the Shasta daisies, orange and magenta zinnias, blue forget-me-nots, and a lovely pink bloom that was part of a packet of butterfly wildflower mix. “I think the pink one is pretty, it has a real long stem and a big flower. It’s nice to have some color and to help the bees,” he told me. Sadly, he has seen few bumblebees. Just a stone’s throw away is our butterfly garden, where
Steve has spotted a couple of monarch butterflies.
Steve tucked the empty flower seed packets in a jar to keep track of what he planted. Some of the packets come from a school affiliated with the Catholic Church. Each of the school’s seed packets features a prayer or Scripture reading. One packet displays the peace prayer attributed to St. Francis. Another packet provides the verse from Matthew’s Gospel about the kingdom of heaven being like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field … (Matt 13:31-32).
The back of each packet from the school invites recipients to “Find comfort, courage and hope by joining us in prayer.” (A quick check of the school offers good reviews but some criticism about the money spent on marketing efforts, such as the seed give-away). Other packets of seeds came from one of the largest seed companies in the world. Another packet was sent by a nature advocacy organization.
I have to wonder if the senders knew that Steve is a lifelong gardener, a nurturer of not just plants but people, too. When we began dating years ago, Steve owned a small farm. He rented most of the land out to a farmer but maintained a spacious garden near his house. “I wanted to see if I could grow my own food,” he said. Among the “essential” foods he grew was popcorn, and all kinds of vegetables, watermelon and more. One valuable lesson he learned. Don’t grow too much of one thing, like popcorn!
Steve plants produce and flowers simply because it gives him joy. Whatever comes of his labor, he accepts it as a part of life. His nurturing has yielded beautiful results in our garden and in our family. Lines from the prayer “Prophets of a Future Not Our Own,” come to mind. The late Bishop Ken Untener wrote the reflection that became this prayer, which moves me deeply:
“… This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. That enables us to do something, and to do it very well.…”
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at email@example.com)