The Work of Waiting
By Khouria Faith Potter
I’ve always loved the idea of gardening wisdom. Until this year though, I’ve never actually had a garden of my own, so recently I’ve been asking myself what I’m learning from the process so far.
The first thing to come to mind was how much work is in the waiting periods of gardening. Of course I knew there was maintenance involved in having a garden, but I didn’t quite understand how much (and likely still don’t). It’s easy to define waiting as biding time until something changes. Patience is of course an important facet of waiting, but I’m learning that waiting well is like tending a garden. It requires presence and watchfulness. Being in a season of waiting can be incredibly difficult. There is so much uncertainty, and it’s easy to listen to fear and allow waiting and worrying to become synonymous. The worries become the focus and can drown out the lessons and the growth that are there. I’m starting to see worries like weeds. My mind is fertile soil for them, and they can easily take over. Like weeds take resources away from what’s been carefully planted, so do my worries threaten the growth that God has for me in seasons of waiting. I need to be watchful and as worries sprout, I need to assess them and weed out what isn’t beneficial.
I’m also learning how quite often I don’t need to be afraid of things I fear. I’ve always had a fear of spiders, but I’m (slowly) learning to appreciate them by understanding more about the role they have in different ecosystems and replacing my ignorant fear with understanding and even gratitude. I’m starting to see them as protectors of the things I’m lovingly growing, instead of threats to my wellbeing. I was even sad when I realized our kitchen spider that’s been keeping pests away from my kitchen herb garden has moved on or died. When I first dug into the soil in our yard, I found it teeming with life (a great indicator of healthy soil). The hefty earthworms that would have seemed gross to me a year ago made me yell a strange and happy “hi!” when I saw them a few weeks ago. These small changes in me have been making me examine what other things in my life I might be unnecessarily afraid of. I’m learning that fear can picture all kinds of horrible scenarios, but it can’t picture the good that might be worked through them and how God’s grace might manifest in those circumstances.
One morning last week I came out to find my newly planted garden had been nearly completely dug up in the night. Because I was watching it closely, I was able to replant the plants that had exposed roots and find several of the seedlings that were alive but buried in soil and save them. There were also a number of things I couldn’t save. While this was certainly an undesired development, I was pleasantly surprised with my reactions to it. I was frustrated by it, yes, but I didn’t feel defeated like I would have expected. I went into action to save what I could. I was sad about the things that had been killed, but I knew that I would plant something else to grow in those spaces. An upturned garden isn’t a ruined one; it’s just one that will look a bit different than expected. The mysterious night digger is likely to be far from the last threat to my garden. I hope I am able to face those future frustrations, and frustrations outside the garden as well, with a willingness to work to make things right where possible and with hope and flexibility for what will look different than I’d planned.
For abundance of the fruits of the earth - and of our hearts -, Lord have mercy.