Tuesday, March 17, 2015

To be a steward

:: the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something:: 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary on  the definition of stewardship

Today I learned a valuable lesson about what it means to be a steward. What it means to be responsible for something. Forgive me for this very long post - but an important lesson was learned today and I can not not share it here. 

This is what two months of neglect look like. The garden hasn't been touched since my dad was last here in November. He had oh so lovingly planted radishes and root vegetables - and like the naive gardener (can I even apply that term to myself?) I am, thought that the garden would be fine to be left until he returned in another two months. You heard me right. Two months!

So the two months came by and my dad was back. When he saw the garden from the window he exclaimed "You didn't harvest anything? They're blossoming already!" I looked at him a bit confused, "I thought I'd wait until you get here - they're probably really big now so we can cook them." He looked at me in disbelief. My mom shook her head in the background.

What's the big problem? Oh read on...

Whenever dad comes, he works in the garden to make it beautiful and functional. So when he was here I expected him to clean it up and make it pretty as he usually does. But low and behold - it rained so much that there wasn't an opportunity for him to go to the garden. He was able to go out a couple of times to survey the damage. His reports were actually pretty interesting.

"Did you know that one of the pineapples are coming up?"
 "I have pineapples? Wow! When were those planted?"
"Wow! Where did you get those greens from?" I asked as he put vegetables into a soup.
"The garden."
"My garden?"
 Shaking of the head (on his part).
Sheepish smile on mine.

Well after several occurrences like that - it was time for mom and dad to go. As stated above, they weren't able to work in the garden very much because of a storm that was passing over the island. Well - today... today was one of those beautiful the sun is out and a breeze is here days.  Ross was working on the yard, so I was inspired to go into the garden.

Do you know what I found? I wish I could tell you I found beautiful and healthy plants but I won't insult your intelligence. Sigh. Heartbreak. I found heartbreak in my own back yard.  My father's work - all those hours spent working outside, working the soil - planting the seeds and coaxing the seeds to grow was wasted. Did you know that radishes require more soil to cover them as they grow? For some reason, in my mind - I envisioned them growing down into the ground, burrowing deeper and deeper. I didn't realize that I was suppose to keep covering them! I also didn't realize that when flowers start to bloom on them, that means that they're old. Like as in - way too old too eat. Like almost this radish has turned into horseradish old!

Did your heart just break a little too? This sight was very sobering. All of my father's work - and I let it go to seed. I did nothing with it. I didn't harvest them and use the fruits to feed my family - which was my father's original intention for planting these vegetables. And now, after several months they lay in a sad pile.

For some reason when I imagined pulling these radishes out, I thought I was going to pull out a healthy one the size of a house. Sometimes being in the ground longer doesn't mean it's better. Sometimes it just means that. It's in the ground longer.  How long does it take for a radish to grow? Well - today I learned less than two months. Laugh.

Well - with no effort on my part, I expected these vegetables to grow into healthy vegetables for our consumption. Are you shaking your head at my naivety? You can. Go ahead. I already have. All morning I have.

Do you want to know something though? A bit of sunshine peeked through the rain of this life lesson that my garden space has taught me. Even through my neglect and abuse at this space - life keeps happening. Growth takes place. Look at how beautiful those tomatoes are! The vines were growing all over the ground. With a bamboo stake I propped it up and now it can grow hopefully without getting ground rot.

And believe it or not - there were fruits of labor to be enjoyed after this day in the garden. I harvested all of the young leaves of the lettuce, and the leaves of spinach that were coming up. As well as some beets and a few of the radishes that were salvageable.

I have to admit that they didn't look healthy and wonderful in the dirt.

But do you want to know what happens when you bring them into your home and wash them? They look like a healthy collection of greens that you can buy at the market. Even better because they're so fresh!

The garden vegetables paired with my vegetables purchased from my local Farmer's market. Look how beautiful it looks!

From the garden - to our table. I'm starting to understand more and more of what that concept looks like. Vegetables don't grow in a bag that says washed three times. There is dirt involved. And work. And sun. And bug bites. And more work. And more bug bites. But oh how satisfying that work is - when you are able to bring it into your home - and create a meal to nourish your family.

When I pray that I might be a good steward over what has been given to me - I was taught today of what that looks like. Of what it really looks like - and what is necessary to bring it about.

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