Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Garden as a Lesson in Growth-- Carolyn Wilker

I’m teaching my granddaughters who are 4 and 6 about gardening. It's an ongoing lesson. They enjoy helping me plant and giving the plants a drink. I’m sure they’d be like me, as a child, if it was a large garden, dreading the long rows, but ours are much shorter than the large garden we had on the farm. 

posing at the garden with her own tools

The garden teaches about growing. After sowing seeds, we look forward to seeing those first shoots poke above the ground. The children are gentle with the tender small plants that we set in the ground. They know that water helps the plants grow and so they love to get out the watering can and help it along.
ready with the watering can

The shoots are those first signs that something is happening underground, just as when we begin to learn something new. An interesting thought begins to work its way into our mind. It brings more questions and then the desire to learn more about that appealing topic.
As in the garden, where there’s enough sun and rain, growth happens. The plants produce blossoms, signs of continuing growth and promise of fruit. The same thing goes for people when they are encouraged and taught. And it’s not just in children. Give adults enough encouragement and opportunity, and they produce fruit too.
Perhaps that’s why my father so liked trees. He’d see the results of the trimming and pruning to give the tree a chance to grow stronger. He helped it along and watched nature do the rest. And he guided and taught us too.        
  My father worked the land. It was part of his livelihood, but part of his passion too, and his interest in the environment went alongside it. Preparing the soil by ploughing and cultivating, feeding it—albeit with that smelly stuff called ‘manure’—and then later, putting in the seed.
That’s not the only lesson of the garden. Plants die at the end of a season. When the blossoms are spent and the plant is done producing, it withers and fades. If we leave the plant in the garden to break down, it leaves food for the next planting season.
When humans die, especially those we love, young or old, it’s definitely painful. The body grows old and becomes weary and can no longer thrive as it once did, as it did for my Dad. We grieve and know that death is part of life, and that it's hard. And we know there's more to come. We realize that lessons imparted along the way can help the next generation grow and mature too.
At Dad’s funeral just one month ago, our theme for his service was trees. One of my sisters had the brilliant, and very fitting, idea to give out white pine seedlings to people who’d come to remember our father. All 200 tree seedlings arrived just in time—the day before the service. Another sister created tags and attached them, and all of the tiny trees found a home.

The cross Dad built from a tree, in the sanctuary for his service

Our grandchildren will watch their trees grow, and they will water them too, encouraging the little seedlings to spread their roots and grow tall. And for those smaller ones who won’t remember their Great-Grandpa as well, they can watch the tree grow as their parents tell them the story of one they loved.
my father

“A time to plant, a time to reap.” The philosopher in Ecclesiastes (3:2) must have been a gardener too.

our tiny seedling

Carolyn R. Wilker is an editor and author from southwestern Ontario. 


Peter Black said...

Thanks for providing this bright and interesting peek into your 'gardening goings on' and lessons in life teaching time with your granddaughters . . . delightful. Carolyn, those are lovely reflections of your dear father and his legacy of faith and work, as reflected in the sanctuary cross. ~~+~~

Peter Black said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you for your kind comment, Peter. We have been so blessed.

I was able to remove the repeat.

Glynis said...

Just today, I had to move my little white pine seedling that I gratefully received from you at your Dad's funeral. The big digger was coming in, and although he said he probably wouldn't damage it, I didn't like the 'probably part' and put it in a pot. Maybe I will keep it there for one season!
What a beautiful way to honour your Dad and what a lovely post on growth and the circle of life, Carolyn. Thanks.

Blessings, Glynis

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