by Mary Ellen Tippin
It has arrived! I am penning this post on the first day of spring. Now, because I live in central Kansas we may experience winter, spring, and summer in any three-day period regardless of the date on the calendar. Our weather is quite changeable and unpredictable.
Yet, it won’t be long before I begin my treks to as many local nurseries as I can. I’m a little bit crazy over flowering plants.
When my five children were small, I had little time for such a frivolous pastime. We did have a few gardens with mostly sweet corn, tomatoes, or potatoes—not very prosperous, but “educational” we hoped. But now I can indulge myself and I do.
One thing I have become particularly aware of with plants is something I observe each year as autumn approaches: Those little plants and seeds I put in the ground in the spring become giant stems and stalks in the fall. Even the weeds that started out as tiny shoots peeking out of the ground so harmlessly have matured into great big tangles of leaves and vines. And I have observed one of the most important lessons regarding plants:
You don’t reap what you sow.
“Hey, wait a minute,” you may be saying to yourself. “She sounds a little crazy. Of course you reap what you sow. If you plant potatoes, you get potatoes. If you plant petunias, you get petunias. What is she talking about?”
I assure you, I’m not referring to seeds turning into something other than what is pictured on the package. I am talking about quantity here. We plant tiny seeds or miniature plants. What look so skimpy when we plant them in our container, by fall have filled the pot to overflowing! One kernel of corn planted in the ground can produce a corn stalk six feet high with at least two ears of corn on it, with more kernels on these ears than we care to count. Amazing! Miraculous!
I don’t know if it’s because spring is here or because I am getting old, but my mind has been thinking a lot about planting and reaping these days. I am seeing and realizing some of my crops are ripening and the fruit has begun to appear.
And I’m not talking about plants now.
All the thoughts, attitudes, actions, and decisions of my life are bearing fruit. I not only see this fruit in my own life; it also shows up in the lives of my children, my grandchildren, my acquaintances, everyone I have touched in some way throughout my almost seventy years.
I like some of the produce I see. My children are hard-working, conscientious, industrious even. When they all come for the holidays—thirty of us in all!—everyone is helpful in one way or another. I see my children valuing their families just as my husband and I valued ours. I love the fact that my daughters are good cooks and enjoy hosting others in their homes much as we did throughout the years and continue to do.
I also see fruit that has some rotten spots on it. My struggles with pride and critical thoughts of others can be seen in those close to me because they have been affected by what I have planted. There are decisions I made that I regret and have lifelong “fruit,” and not the good kind. I can be lazy and unmotivated and yet I never want to see that kind of fruit in my grandchildren!
One kind of activity I have observed in my aging colleagues that has a particularly repulsive fruit, is a life spent planting criticism and unforgiveness. I mention this because we as parents and grandparents can be especially vulnerable to this variety of seed. I can assure you, when criticism and unforgiveness are planted, the resulting fruit is very destructive and undesirable.
Contrast this with seeds of praise, affirmation, forgiveness and love. What a harvest could be ours! To see our children and grandchildren display these same beautiful characteristics because they have been planted by us—that is a crop of highest value.
Maybe you are thinking that you have already blown it. You haven’t planted well and are reaping a harvest filled with disappointment and negative consequences.
Here is the good news.
As long as you have breath, as long as God gives you days to live, you can plant new seeds. Starting today, you can plant seeds that will bear lovely, tasty, wonderful fruit. Maybe your harvest won’t be what it could have been, but it still can make a difference. And the seeds planted always yield more than the sum of the seeds you started with—for good or evil.
So this spring, I am going to again plant my flower seeds. But I intend also to plant seeds that bear much more meaningful fruit. I hope you’ll join me in this gardening adventure!
Mary Ellen Tippin is author of eight children’s books. (Find out more at maryellentippin.com.) In addition to writing, she enjoys music, flowers, hosting people in her home, and influencing her ever-growing number of grandchildren. She and her husband, RJ, live near Newton, KS.