Here in rural America, neighbors show up with all kinds of things at your front door. Meals, garden produce, cookies, pumpkins, and this week, mine showed up with a load of manure. Now, most people wouldn't consider a smelly pile of muck a gift, but we gardeners think that scores as high as a rooster on a rooftop (or some other such nonsense-y rural talk).
It's Winter here. My gardens are a frosty, barren bunch of wooden boxes, plastic pots, and grassless land. They don't look very impressive, but that's not what I saw when the manure came. I saw tomatoes in August! This is the time of year the farmers break out the spreaders and start throwing all those cow flops on the corn fields. Me, I just use a shovel, but the goal is the same: fresh produce this Summer!
I got to thinkin' (because I'm writing all rural-ly today), that God might have some lessons for me in that pile of poop. First, it was a lesson in needs met. It wasn't even on the "things I'm sure I need" list, but it was something I recall saying to myself as I hung out a load of laundry last week. "Gosh, I'd sure like to top off those raised beds before I plant again this year." That was it. No shaking fists, or pleading, just a single thought. Lesson #1: God loves you so much that He meets even the smallest of needs.
As I shoveled that dung into the wheelbarrow, I glanced around at the garden. It doesn't look like much this time of year. Some brown stalks of what used to be vegetables, a pile of rolled up garden fencing, and the carcasses of some squashes everyone refused to eat. If I look at it from the surface, I'd say nothing at all was going on there. Dead. Stagnating. Yes, from my point of view, maybe, but underneath the surface things are happening. My onion bulbs are resting, waiting to green up in Spring, and my garlic is tucked in in great anticipation of bursting forth in another month or so. Lesson #2: sometimes we feel like our lives are at a stand still, that God's not doing a darn thing, but that's only because we look at the surface. We're totally missing what's going on down deep.
Manure needs time to compost, so basically you shovel it on in Winter and let it sit on the ground until Spring. That's when it works it's miracles. Later on, not right this second. Lesson#3: God sometimes lets us sit under a pile of crap for a little while. It doesn't feel so good, and we aren't very good about waiting for time to pass underneath it.
Those alpaca/llama poos didn't walk to the gardens all by themselves. My neighbor muscled it into a cart, drove it over here, and deposited it in a heap. I put on my old clothes, grabbed my friend "Spade", and worked up a sweat moving it from ground level, to wheelbarrow, across the yard into the places I wanted it to go. Lesson#4: the manure of life can be a struggle. It can mean lots of hard work on your part when it comes your way. Growth requires participation.
I finished the work in the gardens this morning, and when I was done I had to change my clothes. The yucky ones went right into the washing machine with a goodly dose of lavender detergent. Last lesson: God doesn't leave us sitting in our own stink. When we ask Him, He gets us through the stagnant season, and through the stinky messes we find ourselves under, most of which are of our own making. I forgot to tell you that when my neighbor called and said she needed to re-home some manure, I ASKED for it. I asked for it. I bet you asked for a little one time or another, too. That's OK. If we always got things right, Jesus wouldn't have needed to go to that cross. You're forgiven when you ask, and Jesus takes all your stink and washes it away.
This little lesson from the Winter garden is meant to be a simple reminder of God's love to myself. Sometimes, I feel a little forgotten in the Heavenly realm when life is hard. If you get anything out of this, that's a bonus. God started us all out in a Garden, and He knows what He's doing. He's cultivating a Spring crop for an Autumn harvest, and I can't wait to experience the fruit of His labors.