— By JOHN PAUL CARTER
My garden has been plowed since January, but because of the cold weather and cedar allergy the only things I’ve planted are onions. (And I’m waiting to see if they survived this last freeze.) The way the weather has been, I’m hesitant to buy and set out tomato and jalapeño plants until after Easter.
On the other hand, my son’s wife, Vanessa, is head-over-heels into organic gardening with a zeal that puts my small efforts to shame. When my daughter, Kristen, and I visited them in Alpine three weekends ago, every spare shelf in the house was covered with trays containing scores of tiny green sprouts under warm lamplight – vegetables for home and market beginning to emerge from carefully planted seeds. With Rush’s help, Vanessa not only plants a garden from seedlings but also raises three wonderful daughters under the age of five. (Have I told you about my granddaughters Maddy, Lina and Johannah Grace lately?)
Seeing those plants growing from seed reminded me of a story by well-known Catholic author Megan McKenna. In her book, “Parables: The Arrows of God,” she tells about a woman who was seeking peace for her life and the world. It seemed to her that everything was falling apart.
One day she went shopping at the mall and randomly entered a small store. Behind the counter was a man who looked just like the pictures that she had seen of Jesus at church and in her Bible. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him.
Finally, she got up her nerve and asked, “Are you Jesus?” He answered, “I am.” She questioned him further and found out that, rather than being an employee, he owned the store.
Her next question was, “What do you sell here?” To which Jesus answered, “Just about anything. What do you want?” Somewhat confused, she stammered, “I don’t know.”
“Well,” Jesus said, “feel free to walk up and down the aisles. Make a list, see what it is you want, and then come back and we’ll see what we can do for you.”
For the next few minutes she walked through the aisles writing furiously. When she came back to the counter, she had a long list of items that included: peace on earth, no more war, no hunger or poverty, harmony in families, clean air, no more illegal drugs, and careful use of natural resources.
When she handed the list to Jesus, he skimmed through it, smiled at her, and said, “No problem.” Then after rummaging behind the counter for several minutes, he brought out a double-handful of packets and spread them out before her on the counter top.
Puzzled, the lady inquired, “But what are these?” Jesus replied, “Seed packets. This is a catalogue store.” In shock, she asked, “You mean I don’t get the finished product?”
“No,” Jesus explained, “this is a place of dreams. You come and see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds. You go home, plant the seeds, nurture them, help them to grow, and someone else reaps the benefit.”
“Oh,” she said sadly, as she left the store without buying anything.
Master gardener, help us to plant and nurture the seeds You have given us, so that our hungry world might be fed. Amen.
John Paul Carter’s “Notes From the Journey” is a regular feature of Viewpoints.