By Joel Matthews
As I sit here and contemplate, decide and agonize over the seeds that I want to order for planting next season, I begin to think about our choices in life. As I sit here and wonder about different types of greens, radishes and tomatoes, mulling over those that I have tried and tasted in the past as well as others that look intriguing, I begin to marvel at the variety of Mother Nature’s evolution. Small changes over time diversified the variety of heirloom choices in the catalog before me. I can choose 5 different types of beets, 8 different types of carrots; there are 3 pages of tomatoes to peruse. No doubt all of them would bring a wonderful deliciousness to the table. I need only decide which will fill my needs and desires the best.
It isn’t instant gratification, of course. I will order the seeds and wait for them to be delivered. I then must prepare the proper place to plant each species and variety. I must plant each and every seed, many of them early in starter pots to be moved and transplanted in a few weeks as the weather becomes more stable and reliable for what I have chosen. I must care for them. If it doesn’t rain enough, I will need to provide additional water until it does. If damaging insects should find my garden, I will have to find ways to protect my plants. I want to encourage and nurture them to their greatest potential. I must be vigilant to harvest at the proper time. Then I will clean and prepare or preserve them. I will be thankful for what they provide to me, not remembering my expectations of those small seed months before.
It occurs to me that this also applies to the human species. We are who we are due to the “seeds” that were planted in our past: the things we like and dislike, how we react or respond to changes in our environment, how we handle adversity or abundance, how we communicate with others, how much we trust others, how much we care about others, how much we share and how much we care. How strong any particular trait is in each of us is due to how it was treated and nurtured and cultivated throughout our lives up to this point. So are the fruits of those seeds that have already been planted in us all we can harvest? Only if that is what we choose to do.
Just as in a garden, if the previous year’s plantings are allowed to scatter new seed, then the same strain is allowed to continue to grow. If we choose to plant seed from a new variety or species, then something new begins to grow. Nothing happens instantaneously. The new growth happens over a season.
As the New Year approaches and the annual ritual of New Year’s resolutions comes to mind, think of the process of seed to mature fruited plant. If we are truly desirous of making behavioral, habitual or spiritual changes in our lives then we can look to the garden for inspiration.
First plant the seed of change in your heart. Feed it, encourage it, nurture it and do all that you can to help it grow. When you need help or support, ask for it. Just as we bring water when the sun shines too harshly on our chosen seeds, so might we need something more to continue the growth in our hearts. Growth and change take time. Many times we become discouraged when we don’t meet our own high expectations. While many are proud to have gone “cold turkey” with changes in their lives, the truth is that it’s much longer before the addictive substances and desires are truly gone. It is the same with any change we want to make in our lives. Growing is not easy. Very few plants in a garden would survive without the help of the gardener. Helping to bring water and nutrients, then clearing the competition for those very resources allows the chosen plants to grow and flourish. Choose the changes you want to make in your life; plant those seeds in your heart and provide the resources those seeds need to grow. In their seasons they will flower and produce the fruits you seek. Don’t forget to ask your favorite gardener of life for any help you need.
If we desire to see behavioral, spiritual or structural changes in our neighborhood, our community, our society and ultimately our world then we must first look to ourselves and plant the seeds of change there.