We planted a garden this summer.. the way we usually do.. Planned which vegetables we wanted to plant.. the way we usually do. And then my husband installed the irrigation system.. the way he always does..
… and then life happened…
This time of year usually finds me knee deep in green beans and surrounded by quart jars of dill pickles..
.. but life happened this summer… and we have neither..
With graduation events.. family trips planned… and family emergencies that weren’t… laughter and camping that were scheduled into our plans… finding a sick kitten in the driveway tube that wasn’t.. lawn mowers that wouldn’t start… to-do lists that wouldn’t end…
… with no rain… high temperatures… and no extra time to weed and pamper the vegetable plants…?? The garden didn’t do well… and by the time we remembered to check on it.. the weeds were high and it was definitely too late to replant…
Wandering through the weeds today, I noticed a couple plants had survived.
One was the reliable zucchini plant. It’s not very exciting but we are really good at growing zucchini in our garden.
More exciting to me.. there were quite a few tomato plants. I always enjoy tomatoes.. especially the little cherry sized ones. NOT to mention fried green tomatoes…
YES.. the tomatoes were a good find.
As I pulled back some weeds to give these plants some room to grow.. I stumbled across a couple cucumber plants. Struggling to survive without sunlight.. choked out by the tall weeds.. but still alive.
Excited to see so much surviving in this overgrown and neglected garden, I started pulling weeds with more energy.
As I knelt there in the dirt… I realized our lives are like my garden..
There are seasons where we will not have the energy or resources to water our talents or hobbies. We may not have the time to weed out our bad habits or negative thoughts..
And harvesting? That will have to wait.
When I first became a mom.. the only thing I paid attention to? Yup.. watering those baby plants. The other corners of my garden were virtually forgotten..
When my son was diagnosed with Autism.. and then a mood disorder… Yup.. the corners of my garden grew high with weeds again..
I didn’t water my friendships… I didn’t weed out my worries… I didn’t take time to read for fun.. or to write for enjoyment.. My adventure plants were nearly choked out…
…and my self care?
I don’t think that plant survived…
Doctors and friends often remind me that I never take enough time for myself.
My “zucchini plant”? My boring, stable.. always present … can’t kill talent?
Taking care of others..
And I do it really well… sometimes too well. So well.. at times.. that I over-volunteer.. I over-work myself.. over commit …
…under eat.. under sleep.. under relax ..
… and forget to leave enough energy to enjoy my interests…
My tomato plants…? My exciting adventure plants… my love to read and write… my love to play baseball in the backyard? .. to watch Jane Austen movies?
Those plants are surviving.. but they don’t have a lot of fruit on them.
And those cuke plants? Friendships and relationships?
Pulling back the weeds, I always find that they are still there. Ready to listen .. and to laugh. But I need to go looking for them more often.
Surprisingly… after the really long year ?
My garden is full of ALL KINDS of interesting things. I pulled out unique plants I have never seen before, beautiful weed flowers.. and huge pricker bushes.
I find that all kinds of beauty.. and ugliness can come from struggles in life. Doubts and bitterness… anger… fears… they can ALL take root in your garden. So can surprise friendships, new knowledge… new skills… blessings in unexpected forms.
While I walked my journey as a parent of a son with Autism.. I had doubts as to whether I could be a good parent.. I had anger that my son had to endure so much.. FEAR that we would never make it past each “phase”… fear that I would fail my son…
But I also found some amazing friendships among the flowers that walked with us… Paraprofessionals, special education directors, speech therapists, teachers… students in his classes… parents of his peers…
I developed a huge knowledge data base.. that I found could be applied to all kids..
I developed a vast amount of patience… that I didn’t know I had… Patience that I apply to every aspect of my life.
When a difficult season of life was over?
I found myself kneeling in the dirt… pulling weeds.. letting the sun shine on forgotten parts of my life.. finding friendships that I had neglected…
Today I pulled out those pricker bushes… all the fears and anger… Remembering how happy and thriving my kids are… I threw those fears in the pile with the doubts and exhaustion….
But… when my hand came across a weed flower? A friendship I hadn’t expected.. one I didn’t plant… and I certainly didn’t plan for?
I simply smile… and clear the plants surrounding it.
And today.. as I looked around my garden…? Among those weeds..?
I realized that some of my favorite things weren’t planned for…