What My Balcony Garden Taught Me About Life and God

You visit the earth and saturate it with water; You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide them with grain when You have so prepared the earth.  You water the field’s furrows abundantly, You settle the ridges of it; You make the soil soft with showers, blessing the sprouting of its vegetation. You crown the year with Your bounty and goodness, and the tracks of Your [chariot wheels] drip with fatness. The [luxuriant] pastures in the uncultivated country drip [with moisture], and the hills gird themselves with joy.  The meadows are clothed with flocks, the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy and sing together. — Psalm 65:9-13

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My plants have been teaching me a lot about God.

I have one plant that I found at the side of the road.  The shop owner was giving a bunch of plants away for free.  What attracted me to it was its colour.  It had green leaves with deep red accents and red leaves with green accents.  It’s so lovely, and whenever I look at it I am reminded that God has a penchant for beauty.  Like that Gungor song, “He makes beautiful things” and, like the Bible tells us, “He makes all things beautiful in His time.”  It has flourished on my balcony.

The Bee and the Balcony

I didn’t expect to see any bugs, let alone bees on my balcony since I’m pretty high off the ground.  Sure enough, I saw a bee on my balcony one day.  It reminded me of the quote: “The flower does not dream of the bee.  It blossoms, and the bee comes.”  The bee will find the flower.  All the flower has to do is concentrate on blossoming.  Who would have thought that my garden would deliver a message of encouragement for my life as a single woman?

The Tomato Plants

I bought two small tomato plants.  They’re not so small anymore (I feel like a proud mother!).  One tomato plant was in a hard to reach corner of my balcony because other plants were in front of it.  Thus, it was hard to water it.  I mean, I did water it, but not as much as its sister.  As soon as I saw the first yellow flower and my first tomato on it, I watered it zealously.  I wouldn’t let a day pass without watering it.

The one that I neglected flourished.  The one I paid too much attention to became water logged and is now half the size (in terms of foliage) of the neglected plant.  I expect to get at least 15 juicy tomatoes from the neglected plant alone.  For the other plant that I continuously watered, I would be lucky if I got 5.  It has stopped growing, but I’m praying that it will live and thrive.

Isn’t that the way with some of our dreams and plans?  Sometimes we need to redirect our attention onto other things so our dreams can breathe.  Sometimes we need to take a step back and stop hovering over and interfering.  Forgetting about a particular dream instead of holding it so tightly may give your dream a chance for it to regenerate and grow.

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Life from Lifeless Basil

I bought basil, which looked like it had just come from the greenhouse.  One day, I noticed the leaves and stalk turning brown and the basil dried up for no apparent reason.  I didn’t have a heart to throw it away – in fact, I’m reluctant to throw away anything.  So I removed it from the hanging planter and placed it on the floor of the balcony in my “rejected plants” corner.  I soon forgot about it.  I didn’t even water it.

Much to my surprise, a few weeks later, I started to see signs of life.  I saw little green leaves budding.  Here I was.  I had given up on this plant.  But here it was growing, and now you wouldn’t be able to suspect that anything had been wrong.  Sometimes we think things – dreams, plans, marriages, etc. – are dead but they are anything but.  They can bounce back.  When we let things go, it gives dreams a chance to grow.

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Thirsty Plants, Thirsty Soul

One week I went away to visit family.  I wouldn’t be around to water my plants, so I prayed that they would not die before I came back.  Would you believe my plants looked just as healthy upon my return as when I had left?  God cares even about the small things, like my tiny first vegetable garden.

I didn’t consider this to be much of a big deal until I saw what my plants looked like when I forgot to water them for one day.  After I returned, there were times when a day would pass without them getting any water.  The fact that they had formerly gone without water for a week and were fine but were now dying after a day without water reminded me of the goodness of God and reminded me of how much we living creatures need water.

And yet one time I didn’t water my plants for two days (I know – I’m pushing my luck).  Teaching kids totally tuckered me out by the time I got home and I was too tired (or lazy) to go out and water my plants (don’t judge me).  On the third day, when I stepped out onto my balcony, all of my plants looked like they were on the brink of death.  The rosemary had two red and black looking tick-looking bugs on it that wouldn’t get off, and I hadn’t had to deal with pests ever before.   I quickly gave my plants a good soaking, and luckily they all soon bounced back to life — all except the mint.  The mint stayed shriveled up.  In the days that followed, I watered it some more, but it still wouldn’t rejuvenate.   I was saddened.  I wanted to use the mint for my watermelon salad (mint and watermelon pair so well together, fyi).  So I removed it from the planter and placed it on the ground beside my former rejected plants (like the basil and the thyme – both of which have come around and are now thriving).

I was asked to teach Sabbath School that week, and God, through my garden, gave me the perfect object lesson to share with my class.  Sometimes we may go a day or two without prayer or Bible study, but we can’t afford to.  There are those of us who are able to just resume after a spiritual hiatus and pick up where we left off, but even that is dangerous.  We cannot afford not to connect with God on a daily basis because we don’t know if we are mint.  We don’t know if we’ll be able to bounce back.

Update on the mint: It is slowly growing again, but it is not flourishing like it was before.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. — Romans 1:20

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