Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Parenting and Gardening: Acts of Faith

April means working in the garden and flower beds.  My husband takes over the vegetable garden (kale, cauliflower, cabbage so far) and I work in the flower beds.  This month I have been rearranging flowers, transplanting grape hyacinth because I want them to create a border, not a fuzzy mess between the lilac and the rosebush. Our daffodils have faded.  The tulips are noble and beautiful now and Finn pointed out the other day that the peonies have budded.  The azaleas are going to be bursting forth any second now, and the snowball bush is just starting its show.  

Over the 14 years we have lived here I have done a lot with the flower beds, but they are all still a work in progress.  Ripping out extremely large plants (at least 8 large bushes--including forsythia--were ripped out because I felt they were too cumbersome, too close to the house), planting smaller ones (azaleas, lilac, hydrangea, lots of peonies, variegated liriope, irises, black-eyed susans....)

It's a work in progress.  But I like the work.

Gardening is just like parenting!  It requires work, thoughtfulness, planning, cultivation.  Every winter I have absolute faith that last year's work will show in the spring flower beds, and every spring I can see the fruits of last year's labor.  

Parenting is an act of faith.  Every day when we invest in our children we are doing invisible work.  No one usually sees this work, these quotidian tasks--reading books, washing laundry, making meals, cleaning messes, correcting attitudes.  Sometimes you don't see the fruit immediately, either.  A child may act out in a public place, a toddler may throw a tantrum that humiliates you in the grocery store...add to this any number of other issues!  During these hard moments having faith in the process is so important, and the process itself is also vital.  I can't leave my flower beds up to nature because they'd be overrun with wire grass, thistles and other weeds within weeks (I know this because I have done this).  Similarly children cannot be left up to themselves to grow; they need cultivation, attention, care and work. 

As I try to create a beautiful garden outside my home I must try even harder to create beauty and foster a life-giving environment within my home, even if I do not see the fruit of this work for months or years.  

And that's just my little April-evening encouragement to any parent (or gardener) who is feeling weary with the work!

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