When my husband and I first married we rented an old house with a small, unruly yard. We happened to inherit six tomato plants from our neighbor and I was on the back deck putting them in pots when I found myself lamenting about how much stronger and larger they would grow if I could just plant them in the ground. Give them room for roots, you know.
Then a tiny, unwelcome thought made its way into my mind. What if I moved beyond the container and allowed myself to grow roots? For five years I’d lived in New York, yet kept my heart with my family in Oklahoma. Sure, I’d made friends but I hadn’t really gotten involved in the community in any kind of meaningful way. I’d tried some churches but hadn’t settled in anywhere. I’d blamed it all on my crazy hours at work but really it was my attitude – my idea that this was only temporary.
By the time those tomatoes ripened, I realized how I was limiting myself and my life began to change. It seems like such a simple observation now, but one I may not have grasped without the help of putting my hands in the soil and planting, of being close enough to creation to hear the Creator.
I know many people view gardening as a spiritual practice and they create quiet, sacred spaces for prayer and reflection. I’ve visited local rock gardens, a labyrinth bordered by flowers and a stunning synagogue where vines climb up the inside of its A-shaped walls. My blood pressure drops just thinking about it.
Some day I’d like to have a place in my yard to sit and enjoy a peaceful view, but for now I’ll have to enjoy other people’s gardens. We’ve moved into a home of our own and last summer we tore out a deck and removed shrubs to make way for growing boys, soccer balls and plastic ride-on tractors.
On the side of our house, though, are heirloom tomato plants, cucumbers, peppers and a lone pumpkin – all with plenty of room to grow.