Are 200 pea plants too many? I’m beginning to wonder. In my enthusiasm, I planted over 200 pea seeds this year. There are four successions of plantings, allowing continual picking for weeks. My memories of sweet, fresh peas from last Spring lingered these last 10 months in such a way that I was determined to have enough to actually serve peas. In past years, they served more as a condiment added to pasta or risotto. This year, we have served peas as a dish all on its own: spectacular.
It has become a spiritual practice: picking peas almost every day. They must be picked almost everyday. As the first planting faded, the next planting picked up steam. The second wave has crested and beginning to slow as the third row needs daily attention. Still, almost everyday, the peas need to be picked. Picking them regularly encourages greater production and isn’t that the point, to have an abundance of peas?
Half way through this season of abundance, I find myself looking forward to the day when the peas will no longer be calling me to get out of bed, then I remembered, “Strawberries, the strawberries are just beginning and need to be looked in on daily.” After that, there will be the green beans. Abundance.
The abundance in the gospel of John (wine at the Wedding at Cana, bread and fish feeding over 5000 people) is an abundance with a back story. It wasn’t simply magic. The servants at the Wedding had to fill up huge purification jars with water and when over 5000 were fed, the disciples had to gather up the fragments of what was leftover. There may have been a miracle of abundance, but it was a miracle that included the active participation of people other than Jesus.
We are blessed with a piece of land around our house that produces an abundance of food. It grows of its own accord and makes food we get to eat and share. It grows of its own accord because we plant it, water it, and tend it. We actively participate in the process of abundance and sometimes it’s tiresome. Because it is occasionally tiresome does not mean it is an endeavor unworthy of our efforts. Some of the best and most important work that is done in this world is tiresome from time to time.
I think people who are not part of a regular faith community often don’t learn this important reality, that experiencing the abundance of God’s love and grace is not a magic trick. It requires something of us, an investment of our time, energy and creativity and sometimes it is tiresome. But that is not God’s fault anymore than it is the fault of the peas for growing so well after I planted them. If you let God in your life, that requires regular tending. It’s a practice and sometimes that practice provides a condiment of joy to your life and sometimes an entire bowlful. You’ve just got to keep tending.
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