Growing up in the countryside in Jamaica has taught me the value of agriculture. That coupled with my dad and grandmother’s undying love for all things farmer-Brown- I was bound to have a green-thumb, or so I thought.
Spring 2020 aroused a lot of emotions for so many. With COVID-19 on the rise, everywhere going under lock down, work laying off employees; my mind was a frazzled frenzy. I thought it might be a virtuous act of emancipation if I did some gardening. I always heard that plants have a way of speaking back to us, and nature has never let anyone down - since its very existence testifies of God’s wonder and majesty (Romans chapter 1 verse 20).
With that in mind, my garden started. Carrots, beans, cucumbers, peppers, and okra- the joy of all my mornings was watering, plowing, and speaking to my seeds. I watched seedlings beam through the dirt with strength and vigor, bursting forward and stretching to the sun. I was awed at God’s ability to literally turn “nothing into something.”
No bugs please
In a conversation with my grandmother one weekend, I overheard one of her neighbors explaining the need for her to spray her garden. She said that bugs and worms were feasting on the vegetables and it was preventable. Certain of this astute farmer’s remedy, I went to get myself a bottle of bug killer spray as well. I knew I noticed holes in my leaves too and I was not about to have these brazen insects destroy my yield.
The bug spray from the garden center had an inscription that it should be diluted well and only sprayed as a mist. In my mind, the bottles they were selling for this special “mist” effect was not worth it, so I went to the dollar store to get a regular spray bottle. Afterall, a spray is a spray, right?
Even though my husband advised against using that bottle and said he would get the correct one, I went ahead and sprayed the plants while he was away from home. I am not sure how I got distracted, but I did not get to finish spraying the entire garden. I planned to complete it as soon as I got in from work that day.
Death, oh death
As I opened my gate that evening, I witnessed a pepper leaf luridly falling from the tree. Beside this naked plant stood other vegetables scorched by the sun and the lethal shower I had given them earlier that day. My heart, only splinters left, no longer whole – I died inside.
Not only did it pain me that I had poisoned my vegetables with an overdose of spray instead of mist, but I also knew my husband would likely not forgive me for this-at least not that easily. When he woke the next morning and saw the garden, he snubbed, and made it clear that he would never go back in the garden again and the conversation that did not start, was over.
I stood in the garden watching the leaves fall with my eyes clouded by grief and a well of tears. I recalled the story in Ezekiel 37 and asked the Lord “can these plants live” Then in rhetoric responded, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3b)
One thing I noticed from the falling leaves was that the plants themselves still stood. The veins of the cucumbers were still plush and green even as the leaves dried up. The next day, I saw a new set of leaves springing forth on all the vegetables. From a dreary brown mess, I woke up to a flourishing green garden.
The leaves came back because the roots did not die.
This made me think about parents. In Proverbs chapter 22 verse 6, parents are charged to “train up a child in the way he should go…”. In essence, the writer encourages parents to plant proper seeds that will develop into strong roots for your children. As they grow old, all the world will make them feel like they need to take on different things to be…, to protect themselves, to grow, and sometimes, all those escapades destroy the covering (leaves) that parents sent their children into the world with.
It was a fresh breath of encouragement to be reminded that if the roots are planted well, no matter what we perceive of our children, they will come back to life. True life, that can only be found in Christ. Eventually, they will be able to say like Paul, “…in Him we live and move and have our being...” (Acts chapter 17 verse 28).
It is important then, that as parents, we understand that the early years in our children’s lives are the best years and the one of true influence. Fertile ground generates strong roots. When roots are solid, prodigal sons return home, children will run back to their fathers, and praying mothers have reason to dance and sing praises when their daughters’ strength is renewed.
As Tony Evans always says, “if what you see is all you see, then you are not really seeing at all.” Be patient with dried, fallen leaves, because roots survive so much more, and if robust enough, they always thrive.
Tamieka Pennant Dussard is a poet and writer, who has served in youth ministries mentoring young people both in Canada (current home) and Jamaica. She is the Director of “Young Wives Uncensored” a social organization which seeks to provide support and accountability to young, married women. She hopes to continue to use her gifts and experiences to motivate young people and share God with the world. She also enjoys cooking and sharing flexi-vegan recipes (IG: ltdkitchen)