Published in Leipsic UMC Newsletter
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For people who love to garden, winter can be a bleak time – when it is most often too cold to spend a lot of time outside. The beautiful colors of spring, summer, and fall have long since faded and the flowers, plants and trees have gone dormant. Even a lot of the wildlife that frequents the garden – frogs, squirrels, birds and butterflies, for example – are long gone, and the garden becomes a quiet, still, seemingly lifeless place.
As the summer months draw to a close and autumn begins to set in, some gardeners watch longingly as the flowers dry and go to seed and the crops are harvested, leaving blank, empty fields in the place of green stalks blowing in the wind. They look forward with dread to the coming winter months and the prospect of cold, gray days with wide-open spaces and leafless trees, being cooped inside while the ground freezes over.
“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.” - Proverbs 20:4
However, to some gardeners those seemingly bleak prospects are simply part of the caring, loving cycle of their gardens. Fall is a time to enjoy those last, brilliant splashes of color and to draw to a close the recent seasons spent watching the baby birds grow to leave the nests, the rows of mounded dirt turn into sprouts – then stalks – and eventually nourishing food, or the tiny plants placed so carefully and tended so faithfully grow into large plants covered with fruit or flowers which at this time of year begin to yield the same seeds that began their journey months ago.
As the summer months draw to a close and autumn begins to creep up so slowly at first that it doesn’t seem like the days will ever cool off, gardeners are harvesting the fruits of their labor. These days are the days they were looking forward to last spring, when the ground thawed and the frosts faded into history, and they were finally able to get out and muck around in the dirt again. This season was the reason for it all.
“And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.” - Deuteronomy 11:13-15
Fall is not just the end of the outdoor cycle. In many ways, it is the beginning. Long before next spring – before the winter has even set in – gardeners are seeding the sparse patches of grass and planting their fall bulbs. They’re looking around at the garden and deciding what should be moved and where it should be moved to the next year. They’re digging up the bulbs and plants that need to be moved indoors, where they will be caringly tended to during the winter months. They’re planting and digging and potting, pruning and watering and covering, preparing for the beginning of the next quarter of an endless cycle.
“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8
And sometimes, for just a moment, they simply pause to take it all in. That warm breeze that seems so unbearable now will be wished for soon enough. The splashes of brilliant golds, oranges, and deep reds will be peacefully hushed and sometimes blanketed by a white coat of winter snow. But for now, the corn rustles in the fields, the locusts buzz in the trees, the crickets and frogs chirp in the evening, the leaves casts shade across the neatly cut grass, and the flowers bloom ever-so-brightly to thank their gardener with a beautiful “I love you!”