Yesterday, finally, during the last day of 70 degrees and sunshine forecasted until um, probably April or so, I trudged out to my over-grown garden armed with a pair of pruning scissors, leather-palmed gloves, twisty ties and a rather large bucket for filling with weeds.
We've had a rather wonderful growing season these past few months, and I expected to garner quite a few tomatoes and peppers and strawberries in the midst of discarding the weeds.
I didn't expect, though, to be filling the bucket with bunches of tomatoes, still green or just ripening or overly ripened.
Once I actually got into the thick of the garden, though, and began untwisting and untangling the tomato vines from each other, as they'd grown way taller than the stakes supporting them, I found the reason for the tomato-bombing epidemic: some of the vines had split under the stress of too-heavy bunches that had grown too tall to be adequately supported. Thus, some fruits were dropping because they weren't getting the water and nutrients needed.
Others, mostly the cherry tomatoes that were perfectly sunned and watered and grown, were dropping because we'd failed to harvest them quickly enough.
My heart groaned most deeply for the perfectly ripened tomatoes that fell to the ground at the peak of ripeness.
Aside from being sort of embarrassed at how I'd let the garden go during these past few weeks, I also found myself feeling like I'd sort of failed to do the job I signed up for, the task I'd undertaken.
I guess I've been too ... busy? preoccupied? disenchanted? tired? to maintain all of the seeds we'd sown into the soil at the beginning of the season, to keep the ground free from weeds and flowers that had spread into our garden.
And yesterday afternoon, I paid for my neglect, as I cleared the brush, pruned half-dead branches from the main vines, discarding more ripened fruits than I cared to count.
There's this verse in Luke 10 I couldn't quite shake as I pruned and cut and discarded tomatoes that had fallen to the ground, ripe, but had since been squashed and splattered against the ground.
He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'"I have the hardest time keeping myself from becoming too busy, too committed, too preoccupied and thus, too exhausted so that I can harvest the fruits that have been set out before me.
And I pray that I stray from becoming the busy garden hand to instead becoming the faithful one -- that I learn to stand well by the Gardeners side as He tends and waters and suns and prunes and grows the fruits in the soil, teaching me my parts, too, so that the greater harvest, unlike my tomatoes, is abundant and gathered in the peak of its ripeness instead of falling to the waste side on the garden ground.