Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fruition of Hope

Hope is hard to hang onto during grief. I don't mean hope of the eternal kind, but hope that the day to day efforts have any worth. When my mom died, I had the hope of seeing her again in Heaven. What I lost there for a while was the hope that I'd get up in the morning and find it was worth the effort. What I lost for the while was both purpose, and the hope of having purpose again. (Let's face it: I make a lousy housewife.)
I lifted my voice to Heaven to ask "What is my purpose now? How can I hope to serve You?"
"Plant seeds."
What? It's the middle of February. It is still a month too early to start seedlings for the garden.
"Plant seeds."
Bob can't eat tomatoes. Maybe peppers?
"Whatever. Plant seeds."

I was sure this was not my inner voice telling me to plant seeds, but the Holy Spirit. My inner voice would have lost patience with me. (Seriously. Have you ever read my interviews with myself?) So I went to the store and looked for seeds. Yes. They had seeds in the middle of February. I was surprised that they didn't know it was too early to start seedlings, but then figured that if God didn't know it was too early, why should Osco. I bought dirt and tomato seeds (Bob told me to go ahead and plant the tomatoes because I like them so much) and bell pepper seeds.
I took them home, planted them, and watered them about every other day. I can't say I hoped for anything yet. I just obeyed and tended the seeds I planted. Two weeks later, I saw a stem push out of the ground. I felt hope. I hoped not only that that stem would push out and one day come to fruition, but that I'd see more stems push out soon. Most of the seeds sprouted eventually, but a few didn't. For them, my hope was in vain...
Still, I had about 10 plants of each. I looked up recipes for home made tomato sauce, figuring I just might have more tomatoes than I knew what to do with. Peppers we'd eat whole. Bob can help me eat the peppers. I had hopes for these sprouted plants.
A month passed as I tended them in their little planters. May is a beautiful month. I decided that May 15 would be an excellent day to plant them in the solid earth. I placed the planters themselves outside a week earlier, hoping that getting them used to the fresh air would be healthy for them. We had a cold rain one night during that week. Half of my plants perished. For them, my hope was in vain.
I planted the surviving plants in the earth, and went for a walk. My plants looked so much smaller than the plants people bought from Osco and Home Depot and Target. They'd probably have tomatoes in late July, and I'd have to wait until August. That is okay. Maybe February wasn't too early to start the seedlings after all. By June I didn't see any flowers. I was offered a temporary job, and did not have time or energy to tend my plants so often. I looked every so often, but did not see any tomatoes or peppers. It seemed my hopes for these plants were in vain.
We went to a friend's house for a barbecue in mid July, and I noticed he had a few tomatoes. I was glad for him, and noticed he had put up a cage so the tomato plants weren't laying on the ground. While I knew I was supposed to do that, I hadn't gotten around to it. I asked Bob to get some tomato cages at the hardware store for me, and he helped me stand the tomato plants up. Several green tomatoes were growing were I couldn't see them! Tomatoes, yayy! A week later, I was eating ripe tomatoes!
In another month, maybe longer, we will be warned of first frost. I will then remove the green tomatoes from the plants. Some I may fry, some I may let ripen on the window sills in my home. The plants I lovingly cared for in February, tortured in early May, tended in late May, peeked at in June, rejoiced over in July, and reaped from in August will be pulled up by the roots before winter. In February (maybe January?) new seeds will be planted in pots and put on the window sills.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--

In the meantime, there are other seeds, those of a spiritual nature, for me to plant and watch grow. Some will come to fruition, and some won't. But it is my given task to keep tending the seeds that do, hoping for the best.


jasonS said...

What a powerful object lesson. Glad you listened and shared it with us, Helen. We are all meant to plant some seeds no matter what it looks like outside. We can obey and find ourselves fruitful. Thanks.

katdish said...

What a wonderful analogy, Helen.

And it made me laugh that your conversation with God ended with him telling you, "Whatever". Lots of mine end that way.

Glynn said...

You've told the story of hope in very concrete, everyday terms. That's called being a successful writer.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

One of my seeds of hope is knowing that I'm going to recognize every one of all these online people I love when I get to Heaven.

I like this post ever so much, Helen. I'm truly looking forward to meeting you and your mom and giving you both lots of hugs. : )

HisFireFly said...

Praying that ALL of your seeds bear the fruit that He intends.

Wonderful post today Helen!

Hazel I. Moon said...

In another sense there are spiritual seeds of kind actions, seeds of approval, seeds of sharing, seeds of love shown, and of course, seeds of HOPE when it seems hopeless.

Candy said...

Oh how I love this, Helen! I hadn't heard how your seedlings turned out and what a wonderful way to hear! Your hope had love and nurturing - by you and Him. I hope you feel how much your mom is smiling right now.

Keep planting your seeds. Don't ever stop.

Annie K said...

Awesome Helen! You know I love hope in the garden because that is what my garden is all about every year. Hope that the frost will stay away long enough for me to enjoy the benefits.

Sandra Heska King said...

Oh, I'm loving this! Maybe I will try some seeds this winter. Great lessons!

Michael Perkins said...

I love how you ended the conversation with God. I think we've all done that.

Anonymous said...

I had to smile thinking about your interviews with yourself.

I love this lesson, Helen. Thanks for these wonderful thoughts on hope.