Toil for the Soil



This evening I was back in time; some twenty-five years ago I was a young gardener; fighting with hard dry clay soil, afternoons into evening, I honed my skills. Plants I killed, talked to, pulled, plucked, pruned, potted, placed, and re-placed. My husband gave me a wheelbarrow and a pair of overhauls, as we call them in the south, presents for our fifth wedding anniversary. Yes, that sounds like an odd anniversary present, but it is the best gift anyone ever gave me. I wore those overhauls til the denim was soft, worn, and blotchy with years of bending, scraping, and crawling through that hard clay until it eventually became the most pliable, nutrient-rich soil. My wheelbarrow helped haul my tools, plants, weeds, mulch, and cow manure. One of my beloved memories is of my husband calling me in at twilight as I had worked way into the evening hours. He’d look at me, covered from head to toe with dirt and cow manure, knowing supper would be on the table eventually … just not right at that particular moment. The cow manure was the processed bagged variety from the garden section of the local Home Center; the only smell I gave off was sweat from hard work, and to my mind, the enticing smell of fresh dirt and the juicy green-ness that is the essence of the life-blood of a plant.

Our cross-the-road neighbor is where I was some twenty-five years ago; she looked at me with a lively sparkle in her eye as she rattled off the names of her newest plants, her plans and visions of what she’d plant next, and her struggles with the beautiful yet invasive ivy that threatened her mental landscaping plans. Smiling the whole time, dirt covering her hands and wedged into her fingernails, I placed blossoms from my own gardenia plant, took her hands in mine, and said there was nothing lovelier than soil covered hands holding fragrant flowers; it is a mental picture I hope I’ll long remember. I hugged her and told her how proud I was of her garden. She beamed. We promised to divide some our plants in the fall … that’s what gardener’s do best-grow … share … and let go.

Dear Lord, her hands covered in dirt, tenderly holding the gardenias, brings to mind You as Creator, digging in the dirt, tenderly holding Your newest creation, man, with whom You were well pleased. You must have been so proud and protective of this being with whom You could share Your Magnificent Universe. Oh, what joy and excitement You must have felt to have created beings with whom You could communicate and who would appreciate all You freely gave. Might I someday have the opportunity to join You in your garden, strolling along hand in hand, smelling the fragrances, delighted by the colors, surprised by hidden details of texture, color, size, and shape. I pray You and I can linger together there, sharing the joy of creating, the satisfaction of hard work paid off, and the time to reflect and admire. Hands dirty and calloused, we will walk together; and if by chance Your scuppernong grapes did well last year … we can sip delightful sweet juice from the vine, and sit a spell on a well-worn bench. Amen



Here is, of course, one of my favorite hymns. First I have to tell a story I am not sure is true; maybe you’ve heard it … a Mother asked her child what God’s name was … the child replied, “Andy.” Surprised and curious, his mother asked, “And just where did you hear that?” “From the song, Mother, the one that says, Andy walked with me Andy talked with me!”  You have to love children … they delight the soul!



In the Garden

Words & Music: C. Aus­tin Miles, March 1912


I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.


He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.


I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.



Luke 13:19  Easy-to-Read Version 
God’s kingdom is like the seed of the mustard plant. Someone plants this seed in their garden. The seed grows and becomes a tree, and the birds build nests on its branches.


Quotes I found about gardening.

I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life. ~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes


Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration. ~Lou Erickson


Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes. ~Author Unknown


You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt. ~Author Unknown


It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season. ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden


Life begins the day you start a garden. ~Chinese Proverb


As a gardener, I’m among those who believe that much of the evidence of God’s existence has been planted. ~Robert Brault,


Learn to be an observer in all seasons. Every single day, your garden has something new and wonderful to show you. ~Author Unknown














3 thoughts on “Toil for the Soil”

  1. Thanks, Mel !! I just got back in from weeding … I love weeding … see how weird I am ??? Thanks for commenting my friend. jan

    1. This post reminds me of the quote – “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticised anyway” (Eleanor Roosevelt) – it sometimes feels incredibly selfish to make these decisions, but sometimes it’s important to put you first. Very tricky.Thanks for sharing – always like reading hers:)Krietina

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