Imagine that you had to employ a gardener. You ask around among your friends and neighbours, and eventually you hear of two gardeners who are available. From people who have employed them, you are able to draw up the following profiles of the two.
The first gardener plants a variety of vegetables and flowers. Periodically he comes along and inspects them. Whenever he sees a plant or a flower that is not doing well he pulls it up and throws it on the compost heap or into the bin. He has planted plenty of seeds and plants, so this practice does not greatly affect the yield or the appearance of the garden. Small, stunted and yellow cabbage plants, wallflowers that slugs have had a feed on, frost-bitten blossoms, all of these go out. There are a lot of advantages in this approach. The appearance of the garden is always pretty and healthy. And diseased plants do not get a chance to infect other plants.
The second gardener also plants a variety of vegetables and flowers and periodically inspects them. But his approach is different. He is on the lookout for plants that are not doing well to see what he can do to make them more healthy. If a cabbage is looking yellow, he gives it more feed. If a flower is attacked by slugs he puts down extra slug-killer. If some of the blossoms are frost-bitten he puts a glass cloche over them to protect them and give them a chance to recover. He hates to see any plant or flower dying. His gardens are not as pretty as those looked after by the first gardener, as some of the plants are clearly ailing.
If you wanted to employ a gardener, you would almost certainly choose the first. The first strikes us as an efficient, practical, no-nonsense gardener. The second gardener seems soft-hearted, and is plant-centered rather than garden-centered. Except in the case of very rare plants, few of us would want to pay good money so that sickly specimens would be nursed, and perhaps the overall condition of the garden neglected.
One of the great benefits, of cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is his unending life giving, grace-filled presence.
In a world and culture, where so much emphasis is on perfection, achievement, excellence, it’s a great blessing that in faith, our God, loves us as we are. All our gardens like our lives, have both flowers and weeds.
Saint Paul, once acknowledged, “When I am weak then I am strong”. As we give thanks for the gift of harvest, let us be fueled with a spirit of gratitude. May this new month of September be a blessed one for us all. Be mindful that each one of us produces rich fruits, often as a result of patience, endurance, resilience and courage. May we celebrate that the rich diversity, that is the garden of life, there is room for everyone, as the melody sings… All God’s creatures has a place in the choir.
Perhaps this harvest time is an opportunity for us all, to acknowledge the fruits that we all have in the depth of our being. Fruits that take a lot of time to grow and mature into the beautiful personality and unique qualities that are particular to all our stories. The gift of Grandparents who embody the story of every harvest. Parents who respond so generously to the needs of their children. Parenting I’m sure in many ways could be likened to tending the needs of the vineyard, it is constant, demanding, most challenging and in many ways totally dependent on the unconditional generosity and reservoir of love, that provides for the needs of family life. I am often truly inspired by the time and indeed sacrifices that so many wonderful parents, so often make for their children, in order to allow them to grow and realize the best possible harvest for their family. No fruit or talent can realize its potential without effort and work. May the Lord bless all our lives with health of body and peace of mind…