Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Growing in Tandem

"as a vegetable garden"
Deuteronomy 11:10

I was reading an old magazine the other day, that I forgot I had.  It's a magazine aimed at women and the home, with recipes and gardening tips and stuff on how to raise chickens.  I like it because it reminds me of a time when everyone used to raise chickens, and it reminds me that there are still people who do it.

I'm even related to a few.

And I love the gardening articles in this magazine, for the pure and true reason that I am not a gardener.  Which is a pity, because I love gardens.  I love plants.  I love greenery, and all the plants that refuse to be green, because they want to be different.

This is from our trip to the re-created Jamestown Settlement a few years ago.  Our guide here was talking to us about crops.  That's tobacco in her hand.

I love flowers and fruits and seeds and leaves that are the "pretty" of a plant because they change color.  I mean, what's up with poinsettia?  Amazing.

And I love reading articles about gardening so that I can live vicariously through the writer.  Because I am a terrible gardener.  I have a few houseplants that I manage to keep alive, mostly because they are forgiving, and they happen to thrive on the type of care I'm able to give.

Same with our outdoor plants.  Two trees in the backyard that are alive and healthy but refuse to get any taller.  Our apple tree, which was already mature when we moved in.  A palm tree because who can kill those in Southern California?  And in the front yard, a red ash that I love because it loves me.  A birch that we planted, and its neighbor, which we also planted.  Except that one died.  No idea why one lived and one died.

Oh, and some honeysuckle out by the mailbox, and some star jasmine by the front door, which smells heavenly for a few weeks in the summer.  The jasmine, not the door.  Poorly constructed sentence there....

Anyhow, this article I read the other day was so interesting, and if I ever have the time and develop a talent for gardening, I'm gonna try this.  It was about something called the "Three Sisters" planting method.  It means to plant corn, beans and squash together, enabling them to "encourage" each other in the growing process.

As for the reasons, the Old Farmer's Almanac puts it this way:

As older sisters often do, the corn offers the beans needed support.
The beans, the giving sister, pull nitrogen from the air 
and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three.
As the beans grow through the tangle of squash vines 
and wind their way up the cornstalks into the sunlight, 
they hold the sisters together.
The large leaves of the sprawling squash protect the threesome 
by creating living mulch that shades the soil, 
keeping it cool and moist and protecting weeds.
The prickly squash leaves also keep away raccoons, 
which don't like to step on them. 

I just think that's beautiful and amazing.  I love the idea of someone (in this case Native Americans) realizing that these plants would benefit one another.   And I love the idea of that someone teaching other someones. 

But most of all, I love what these plants do for one another.  I love the teamwork, if you will, even though they're just doing what God created them to do.   It reminded me of an article I read years ago, about athletes competing in a triathlon.  But these athletes were all handicapped in some way, and each of them was only able to compete in one portion.  So they teamed up with others, and it was sort of a relay-triathlon.  I thought that was so beautiful.  These teams of three, competing together and creating one whole athlete, in a way.

We are who we are, each of us.  We are growing and becoming all the time.  And if we are living for Him, then we are growing more like Him, becoming more complete, and ever closer to perfection.

But in the meantime, He has provided us with helpers.  People who are in our lives, and we in theirs, for the purpose of each of us growing. 

Sometimes you're the beans and I'm the squash.  And sometimes I'm the beans and you're the corn.  But as long as we're reaching toward the Son, we'll keep growing.

~ "But other seed fell on good ground
      and yielded a crop that sprang up, 
     increased and produced" ~
Mark 4:8

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