It’s harvest time, and this is the first year in a very long time that means something to me. This year, I built my wife a garden.
She always wanted to grow things. I used to spend a lot of time in my gardens as a young man, and always enjoyed it, so I was a bit overzealous in my preparations. I built a greenhouse, I built raised beds, I set up a compost pile. I went all out. I don’t do things by halves.
So when I went to fill the raised beds with soil, I wanted to do it right. No regular dirt for me, I went for the good stuff. I went to the garden store and bought bags and bags of the good stuff. I vaguely remember something about the cashier asking if I was going to plant directly into this, but I wasn’t really paying attention. I was on a mission.
I filled the beds to the brim, I had plenty of mulch, this was going to be great. Only I didn’t actually buy soil, I bought amendment. For those of you not knee-deep in the gardening hobby, this means I bought stuff to put IN the soil, not soil itself. I figured it wouldn’t matter much, and just kept on trucking.
It was beautiful. I imagined the garden paradise that was to come from my labors. Endless squash, oodles of garlic, tomatoes you could never buy in a grocery store. It was going to be glorious.
It has been the worst garden I have ever had. I would have had twice the crop if I would have just gone and bought some baby plants and stuck them in the ground. I spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours for a substandard product. It was not a total waste, we did okay, but for the work I put in, it was lame.
I do the exact same thing in my spiritual life. I get a big plan, a huge, change my life, become a Saint by next month plan, and I go all in. Then one thing screws the whole thing up. Rather than just starting with what I have, I try to build a spiritual empire.
Don’t get me wrong. I think we all need some great moment where we decide that we are going to take our faith life seriously, that we are going to live for Jesus, and focus our lives on Him and Him before all. But assuming that you have made this decision, it is not always best to try to do everything at once. Sometimes for lasting change, you just have to throw what you have in the dirt, and build up your life around what you have.
For me, it is the simple things, the daily rosary and chaplet, remembering to pray as I wake and before I rest. To set an alarm on my phone to remember to say a prayer each hour. To turn on Catholic radio instead of the newest booty-shaking music. Most of all, to try to bring God into my day, to pray for those around me, and to try, though it is very hard, to remember that every person I meet is a manifestation of the Lord.
These are all things I don’t have to build a whole life around, they can be done in the here and now. No greenhouse or raised beds needed.
And it will bear much more fruit than my pitiful onions.