I love this time of year and I love working outside. For many years we have collected pine needles on the campus of WCU to mulch our flower beds. We used to pile our four children in the back of the pick-up and drive to several parking lots on campus where our four children would help Phil and I rake up the pine needles that had recently fallen. The key was to rake them up before they had been driven over very much so that the needles were easy to rake up. We would fill the bed of the pick-up and then the kids would ride on top of them back to our house. (Before you have horrific visions of kids bouncing out of the back of the truck onto pavement – you must know that we lived adjacent to the campus and the furthest parking lot was within a mile, two at the most)
When our children were young this was a great adventure. It was fun to ride in the back of the truck on a pile of sweet-smelling pine needles. As they grew older and became teenagers – this chore lost its lustre. They didn’t want their peers to see them raking pine needles on campus or, heaven forbid! riding in the back of a pick-up! Appearing cool begins to win over the wind whipping through your hair while bouncing around on a soft bed of pine needles.
That is one of the best parts of having grandchildren. I can do some of those activities I first did with our children and the grandchildren now think it’s FUN! Notice what our grandsons are riding on in the wheelbarrow. Yes – those are pine needles from WCU. Phil and I now go get them ourselves and it is a ten-mile drive for us since we moved from Cullowhee. But there is no better mulch for our hydrangeas and azaleas then white pine needles! We’ll “harvest” those pine needles next week.
Phil has harvested all the sweet corn and we blanched it, cut it off the cob, and froze it. We are still getting a few tomatoes until we have a frost, and Phil has dug potatoes. This was not the best garden we have ever had, but the beans and corn did especially well. Our squash and cucumbers did poorly, but we did enjoy the few that we had. The good aspect of gardening is enjoying the “fruits” of our (Phil’s) labor, eating, sharing, and putting up the fruits and vegetables. There is NOTHING better to eat in my estimation than vine ripened tomatoes and fresh corn on the cob. No wonder God said “It was good” after He made those plants!
Now that the garden is all but finished for this season, we could look back with regret on the vegetables that did not do well, or we can savor the blessings of the vegetables we enjoyed eating – and the ones in the cellar waiting to be eaten this winter.
I believe that God looks on us and the “fruit” we bear in that way. Galatians 5: 22, 23 lists the results of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
Just as our garden has a good harvest for certain vegetables one year and less the next, our lives face similar situations at times. Last year a groundhog ate every green bean plant so we had no fresh beans to eat or can. Yet we had the best cucumbers ever! This year Phil foiled the ground-hog (don’t ask how) and we had the best beans we have ever grown. The cucumbers, sadly, were a sorry lot.
Sometimes we have peace in our lives, other times our joy may be abundant. We may feel that our patience is GONE, but we still feel love for those little ones with sticky fingers and runny noses. In our garden we work to achieve optimum results each year, but there are often (furry) things beyond our control. So it is with the fruit of the Spirit. We can’t control all the circumstances of our lives, but we can seek to bear God’s fruit and nurture its growth. We can be thankful for each fruit that we manifest in our lives and seek to improve where we know we fall short. God is faithful to do ” immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20.