This morning I was one my way down the stairs to get our laundry from the basement when one of our neighbors stopped me.
“How does my wife get in on this garden thing?”
I began to explain our plan, but then he went inside to get his wife so she could talk to me in person. She leaned against the frame of her door, still in her pajamas, and asked what she had to do, if she had to pay anything. I told her that she’s welcome to contribute money or supplies, but that she’s also welcome to just help if she wants. Her husband said he’s not interested in gardening, but asked about a water source and offered to buy us two 40’ hoses so we can water the garden without hauling watering cans from the basement.
His wife had just two requests for plants: strawberries and sunflowers.
“I don’t need a lot of space for the sunflowers,” she said. “I just want to be able to see them.”
I told her that we can plant the strawberries in some of our tires (someone drove 30 miles on Monday to bring us a truck load of tires for free, so we have more space to plant) and we’ll make space in the plot for the sunflowers.
After I went back inside with my laundry, I wanted to jump around for joy. I was so excited that she wanted to join us, so full of joy and anticipation at how this garden is beginning to come together. This joy and anticipation stems from more than just excitement that the garden is happening (though I’m thrilled about that, too). It springs from how it’s happening, how the neighbors are being drawn in, one by one, how each one has something to bring, how we are honoring and making space for the desires of each person who has come.
I can feel the Lord speaking to me about His Kingdom through this garden. I am struck by the way that He welcomes us when we come to Him. He honors us and invites us to bring our gifts and desires. In fact, He has been waiting for those gifts and desires because He has a place for them. We are invited to be co-laborers with Him, not just passive slaves to His plan. In a small way, I feel like I have the opportunity to reflect that in the way I welcome and honor each neighbor who wants to help with this garden. As each neighbor has come forward and shared their desires for this garden and offered what they have to contribute (seeds, a friend with a truck, a couple hoses), I can see the Kingdom
I also feel the Lord reminding me of His joy over even one person who answers His invitation to enter the Kingdom. I think about Luke 15, where Jesus tells the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal one, each story illustrating this extravagant joy over the return of the lost.
I think this garden is shaping up to be one of my favorite parts of this summer.
“I tell you, there will be the same kind of joy before the angels of God over one repentant sinner” (Luke 15:10).