“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5, NIV).”
I have always admired people who God has blessed with the gift of a green thumb. My grandmother always kept a lovely garden. I can remember being a little girl and watching her as she lovingly tended her tomatoes, cucumbers, flowers, and the bushes around our home.
As my grandmother grew older, it became harder for her to get down on her knees in order to pull weeds. One day, she called me away from where I was playing in order to help her.
“Here,” she said, “Get down on your knees and help me pull these weeds.”
I was all too eager to try to help her. Sadly, I was not particularly good at gardening. With a huge smile on my face, I dropped to my knees and wrapped both of my hands around what I thought was a large leafy weed.
I can still hear her voice as if it were yesterday. “No! Don’t pull those,” she shouted with a sigh of exasperation. “Those aren’t weeds! Those are flowers! They just haven’t bloomed yet!”
“I’m sorry!” I said sadly as I looked at the green stems that I clutched in my hands, “I thought they were weeds! I didn’t know! What do I do now?”
Grandma sighed once more and knelt next to me on the ground. “Well,” she said as she gently took the flowers from my hands, “They will just have to bloom where they are planted.” Then, she took her small shovel, dug a hole, and carefully placed the flowers back into the soft topsoil. Eventually, the flowers did indeed blossom where grandma had planted them.
As an adult, I still struggle to keep plants alive. I’ve even managed to kill a cactus! Nevertheless, this summer I adopted three tomato plants from our church rummage sale. After a surprising amount of effort (my grandmother always made gardening look so effortless!) I managed to successfully plant them in a box on the back porch of the parsonage. I have named them Byron, Keats, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, in honor of three romantic poets.
Tending to Byron, Keats, and Shelley, has been a very spiritual practice for me. It has reminded me that, despite my best efforts, it is God who makes things grow. As a human being, I am incapable of making these little tomato plants take root or bear fruit. I can give them all the water and all the plant food in the world, but it is God who unfurls their leaves or ripens fruit on their stems. This is a humbling as well as a liberating realization. God is the one who is all powerful.
Throughout the summer, I was amazed as I watched Byron, Keats, and Shelley thrive. After several weeks, my plants became so large that their box kept toppling on its side. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I started using two folding chairs in order to support the plants. Then, a few weeks after that, Shelley produced two small green tomatoes! That’s when I discovered that the small tables attached to the folding chairs were the perfect height to support the tomatoes so that their weight didn’t break the branches.
I am so happy that I managed to help keep these little plants alive. Every time I look at them I am reminded of the Bible verse that reads, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5, NIV).” It is my prayer that you, your family, your loved ones, and our universal church will continue to abide in God’s love. I pray that you will bear much fruit during this season of harvest and thanksgiving.
Wherever you find yourself at this season in your life, it is my prayer for you that you will bloom where you are planted. May God provide you with good soil, nourish you with spiritual food, and water you with love.
May God Bless and Keep You,
-Rev. Rebecca L. Holland
P.S. My grandmother has informed me that there are actual wire cages that can be used to support tomato plants. This sounds like a great idea to me and I will try using wire cages next year instead of folding chairs!
How are you blooming? Let me know in the comments below! Have move to say? Continue the conversation with me on Twitter @BeckieWrites !