There’s something magical about that first step to my garden each year. It inspires so many things in my heart and brain. Hope, a focus on health, a sense of being whole, of anticipation. It is the faith that things are changing, growing, moving, and developing. The moment that first seed hits the dirt, my heart gets that butterfly feeling.
How is it that minuscule little cauliflower seed can have such an impact, you ask? I can’t really explain it completely. All I do know is that it is nothing short of miraculous to me every single time that one of those tiny little seeds sprouts into a seedling, then develops into a plant. A plant that will feed my family or someone else I love. A plant that, if properly nurtured, carries within it the power to nourish and heal. A plant that was at one time nothing more than a speck of a seed. So tiny, so locked, so restricted.
I grew up here in the South, but not in the country. Some of our family friends always had gardens and/or chickens, but we never successfully even had a pet – except our hamster, Ratstus. Even he would often try to escape! I married a country boy, though. For our entire eleven years of marriage, he has progressively moved us further & further toward the country. While this was happening, I was also becoming aware due to some family health issues of just how impactful what we consume is upon our health. I mean, I always understood fresh is best and all that, but I’m talking about even further. I’m talking about how much the health value of our food is altered by the chemical inputs into our land, air, and even our bodies. So I started looking to organic, then to local, then seasonal. The thing was, it wasn’t always easy on our young small family budget. That’s where gardening came in. The first 2 gardens I ever had were resounding failures. I learned that, despite all the research, you have to do a certain amount of learning your own area. Then it came, that first small measure of success. And, the kids started wanting to eat the okra off the stalk, or eating tomatoes as fast as they could pick them, or trying new vegetables without the incident of World War 3 in the house at dinnertime. That’s when my love for the garden really flourished.
It began first by the benefits I saw with my kids. They loved digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and watching them grow. They learned the true value of good food because they saw and helped with the work that goes into it. Then, I started missing the smell of freshly turned dirt during off-season. I loved the wholesome feeling of coming in hot & thirsty from working in the garden. (Trust me, an ice-cold glass of water is never quite as refreshing as in that moment.) The more I learned about gardening, the more I saw connections between the spiritual and the physical. I started understanding so many of the parables in the New Testament in a more real and personal way. So began my journey into a new-found freedom.
To me, this freedom is from chemicals in our home, or from allowing any toxic relationships to have power over my mental well-being. I allowed myself to be free from letting others choose what is right or wrong for my life purpose, and – perhaps the most profound in my life – I made myself choose to be free from living behind a safe wall.
I am far from perfect, even farther from where I want to be. But my search for the best way to provide healthy food for my family has launched so many other personal searches. And the more I study, the more I see correlations with every. single. thing. The same principles that make a garden successful can make a budget or financial plan a success. The same goes for your personal walk with God, or with pursuing your life calling. The actions may differ, but the principles of success are the same across the board.
The biggest impacts in our lives truly do lie in the accumulation of the little decisions we make consistently, day after day. For the garden, it is that daily care and love poured into it that causes its ultimate success. For forging new habits and mindsets, it is a daily focus on the right things that uplift and encourage; those small daily successes progress and, before we realize, we have redefined our inner selves.