I asked some friends a question this morning, How does your garden grow?
Yesterday I was out watering my flowers and considered the above question. I imagine the first thing that comes to mind is a physical garden whether it is a flower garden or a vegetable garden. Both of which take a lot of care. One must prepare the area, clearing it of weeds and stones. Once the ground is ready, you head for your garden center of choice and pick out your plants. Then you decide where you are planting what. Some plants do better in full sun, others only need partial sun. Some plants need a great deal of water while others do well with limited amounts. All plants will need feeding, whether you use plant food specific for that particular plant or a fertilizer that will feed everything you plant. It takes a great deal of work- getting a garden to grow. Everything has its own particular requirements for it to grow into a healthy, producing plant. Once it is a fully grown plant that is producing, you must take care of it even then. Flowers may need to be kept dead-headed, or trimmed. Vegetables need to be harvested. For the entire growing season you are kept busy- getting your garden to grow. Especially if you want a bountiful harvest of edibles, or an array of flowers that would win awards and should adorn a magazine cover. Butterfly and Bee fight over the abundant flowers you have grown.
But, what of other gardens? What do you do to help those gardens grow? What other gardens you might ask? What about family? You haven't considered family as a garden? Consider this, as a child we were cared for when our parents gave us what we needed in the way of clothing and food with a few extras tossed in along the way. As we grew we learned how to get along with our siblings and various relatives. If we showered them with respect and love, we (usually) got respect and love in return. When we became adults we began to consider the type of person we wanted to spend the rest of our life with. When we met various people we invested time and energy into the relationship trying to determine if this person was 'the one'. Over the course of time, many hours would be invested, various activities- some that you probably didn't even like- but all to work toward the end results of the garden of your own family. When you marry, you will tend to the union through your emotions. Feeding it hope, faith, love, compassion while watering it with forgiveness and mercy. You will prune away the bad branches such as jealousy, envy and anger to name a few. When the time is right your union will produce your own children and you will care for them well. Feeding and watering them with the same emotions you did with your spouse. Training them as one would a vine that you wanted to grow in a certain direction you will train your children to be good, productive adults. Then you will watch them as they move on to their own family garden.
What about your garden of friends? Now of course to cultivate friends is not the same as vegetables, but, many similar things are required. While you aren't going to be clearing ground physically, you will prepare your heart for new friends when you meet them. While in a physical garden there are times when a volunteer plant appears. You didn't plant it, for some reason it was just there. Maybe the wind blew in the seed or an animal dropped it. However it happened, there it is. The same happens with people. While we may think that we only want certain types for friends, there are times when others will find their way to us. Do we treat them as we do the other people that we deliberately sought out? Or do we rip them from our lives as one does an unwanted weed in the midst of an immaculate lawn? The friends that we have, we must take care of them, make sure they know that we appreciate them, be there for them when they have a need. We need to treat them well, as we would like to be treated. Shower them with laughter, wrap them in peace, take a how to weed out the bad things and feed them with love. Sadly though, there are times when a friendship falls apart. It is not good for either one of you, creating only pain and heartache. When the bad outweighs the good it is time to remove them from the garden.
You can say the same for careers. You prepare when you educate yourself for your dream job. You feed the dream when you practice. You water it when you continually seek out knowledge of and methods for doing this dream. When you land your dream career you feed it by working hard. You water it by continually learning from those who have gone before you. You water it when you seek out better, more efficient methods. You weed it when you remove the things that are detrimental to your career. You see it produce in the way of bonuses, awards, acknowledgements of what you have accomplished.
What of your faith? You prepare your heart, you acknowledge your needs and you seek out the answers to your questions. You feed it when you spend time with those who know more. Those who are like minded with you. You feed it when you read the words that are given on it. You water it, when you pray, when you openly acknowledge and share without malice or judgement. When you seek guidance in this walk, you are caring for your garden of faith. You learn to discern truth from fallacy when listening to others speak. You realize that there is a difference in religion and in a relationship. Your garden produces when others understand what you are saying, when they seek out for themselves their own garden of faith.
There are many gardens in our lives. It is up to us to cultivate them, to care for them, to bring them to a state of productiveness. So I ask again........how does your garden grow?