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Friday, September 18, 2009

Like a Spoon

Ummmm, I'm enjoying the most delicious mango right now from Costco, they're super good, and I'm enjoying one of their kiwis too. It might be a little pricier, but it's worth it for the quality of fruit you can get there. Anyhow, that isn't the topic of this particular blog!

Wednesday we were up on the farm expecting to pick apples and found out that we were going to try something different: planting garlic! Now growing up, I didn't have much experience with planting, growing fruits and veggies, and such fun things. My mom tried to grow cabbages in West Africa and succeeded, until she found out that the full grown cabbages were the decorative kind and not for eating! I attempted to grow tomatoes and put about 50 gallons of water into 4 cherry-sized results. My herb pots did not flourish like I had expected and the chives that pushed up eagerly out of the soil first did not last long. And here we were, headed to plant garlic.

I watched Rocco as he pushed a tiller of sorts through the thick clay earth, creating a wide furrow about 6 inches deep. He then turned to us and instructed us to plant the garlic about 3 inches apart, right-side up. Rebecca and I got busy quickly, squatting or bending over to carefully place the garlic in the waiting earth as Shaina came behind covering them with loose dirt. I didn't know that to plant garlic, you have to have a single clove. From that single clove a full head will develop. Last year they planted 10 pounds of garlic and harvested about 100 pounds. This year they're planning to plant 25 pounds.

We soon got into a routine of sorts, bending, planting, moving down a bit, planting more, stopping often to reach into the bucket for another handful of cloves. Leap-frogging each other, we finished our first row 45 minutes later and started down the second. I had shed my sandals early on and Rebecca followed suit, pulling off socks and shoes, to relish in the feeling of wet earth between our toes as we tromped down the rows, soaking up the sun and feeling the gentle fall breeze. Dr. J busied herself pulling euphorbia (a fancy word for a kind of weed) and the time flew by.

At some point in the afternoon, Dr. J came across a spoon of a rather odd shape. Both the front and back thirds of the spoon had been bent inwards so it formed a U-shape of sorts. Recognizing the cafeteria design, we theorized that it had been through the composter, and as Dr. J reached to add the spoon to her collection of scrap metal, PVC pipe, and other things she'd found in the garden, I suddenly said, "I want that spoon!" It just seemed like a cool object to keep and maybe it would come in handy for an illustration one day.

At quitting time we headed back up the hill to the small shed where we would deposit our tools and extra garlic to be planted the next day. We had finished two rows and were pleased with our day's work. After putting my items away, I reached in my pocket and realized I had lost my spoon. I carefully checked my pockets and found my Ipod and keys but no spoon. "I must have lost my spoon, I'll be right back," I called to my teammates and headed back down towards the garlic patch to retrace my steps. As I walked by the row, carefully scanning the ground, I began to despair of finding the spoon. Why did I need it anyway? It was just a silly little used spoon anyway. But I liked to collect odd things, like random stones and branches and the worn lug nut off my tire and bird feathers and burned bits of firewood. So I prayed, knowing that God knew where my spoon was and that He could show me. Sure enough, at the end of the row, I looked up and saw my spoon happily laying there on the ground, just waiting for me to come and find it.

As I was writing, I realized there is a lesson to be learned in something even as simple as this. We're like that spoon. We look kind of funny, maybe are a bit beat up and banged about, but God comes along and sees us and knows there is something amazing about us. That part of us that we are afraid of showing to the world, are ashamed of, embarrassed about, uncertain of, that part of our life experience that we wonder why we had to endure, that unique part about us is exactly what God sees and He thinks, "I can use that!" He picks us up and places us in a safe place so, at the right time, He can use us for the purpose that we were created for. He knows that there will come a time when we will be able to help someone else see their unique beauty and understand why they have gone through their individual experiences.

Then we decide to go our own way. We aren't sure whether we really want to have our experiences shared with the world, whether we can trust this God Whom we are still just getting to know, and whether we are ready for this different experience. Maybe it would be easier to stay where we were, buried in the ground, in a comfortable place, slowly rusting over time. So we quietly slip out the back door and return to our place of familiarity.

God knows we are missing, though, and He is not content to leave us where we would prefer to stay. He returns, and, like the story of the Good Shepherd, keeps looking until He finds us. Or maybe He keeps calling until we realize that we have been found.

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