I found myself outside in the pre-dawn darkness of the morning of Sept. 8th, the day of the great flooding in Phoenix. Clothed in a red raincoat, bearing a large blue tarp that the rain and fierce winds tried ripping from my grasp several times, I was on a mission.
Three weeks before, my daughter had decided to plant sunflowers from a little packet of seeds that she had found in our kitchen junk drawer. A week later, 8 little green shoots began pushing up through the soil of the clay pots they were planted in. It was no longer a small matter; We would have to make a planter box for our seedlings, or the sunflowers would perish in their small containers.
An entire Saturday was consumed with trips to Home Depot, the boys cutting boards, pounding nails, and 8 bags of garden soil being poured into their new home. The seedlings, which now stood 12 inches high, were placed with great care into hand scooped holes.
Over the next week, I carefully monitored the hours of sunlight and intense heat. When tiny ants found the tasty leaves, I sprinkled pepper sauce and water at the base of the sprouts. Netting was installed after the imprint of a cat paw was found at the base of a snapped stalk. Then it happened, the news was predicting unprecedented storms for Phoenix.
With tarp in hand, lightning rain and wind overhead, I worked at securing a covering over pvc pipes that arched across the garden. While pounding stakes into the corners of the tarp, the wind whipped it out of my hand. With great effort, the garden was finally covered. It survived two days of storms.
This work of gardening, I was finding, took tedious attention and care. When I was watering the plants this week, I was reminded of the parable of The Sower in Mark 4 from last Sunday’s sermon. I reflected how extravagant is God’s love and care for us as we live our lives. When the stormy sea rose up under the disciples and the winds roared around them, it may have seemed that the sprouts of God’s word were wilting in their lives. The disciples experienced real fear, real difficulties, but they continued to faithfully follow Jesus. They nurtured a deeply rooted faith in Christ that resulted in a harvest that continues to this day. Gardening is definitely serious business. -Tina Stephens