I started something new this summer: growing a garden. Mom always had a garden growing up, despite the number of times my brothers and I mowed over her rhubarb, she continued to plant and water and weed and eventually harvest a variety of fruits and vegetables over the summer months. (Which means we also ended up having to can and preserve quite a number of things, too.)
Somehow, earlier this summer, the bug bit me to follow in her footsteps, for some strange reason, and a friend helped set me up with containers, pots, potting soil and plants so that I could enjoy the fruits of a homegrown garden as well. I wasn’t quite sure why I wanted to add something else to my plate at the time, but I found the time watering the containers to be somewhat therapeutic and a good way to relax at the end of the day. So no matter what time it was, when I got home that night, I would grab the hose and a few buckets and spend a few minutes slinging water around. And I have to admit, tomatoes grown on your own deck just plain taste better than tomatoes you buy from the grocery store!
But I had a problem. You see, in every other effort I have ever made to grow green things, I have killed said green thing. I had the proverbial brown thumb. If I touched it, it died. So I was facing quite the mountain in front of me: just how would I overcome this lack of ability and be able to enjoy the fruits of this nascent garden…
The secret, it seems, is this little concoction called Miracle Grow. Lately, the basil has been looking fairly terrible. But a few nights ago, in addition to the evening watering, I added some of this magical elixir, and low and behold, I think I could have a wonderful Caprese Salad this evening, if, of course, I wasn’t going to the festival!
And it struck me: that miracle grow is the grace my garden needed to grow. I could do everything in my own power to cultivate and nourish that garden, but there was a needed kick to get it over the edge; a little touch of this magical potion.
In our human life and in our spiritual life, God’s Grace is the equivalent of that miracle grow for the garden: it takes our own natural abilities and enhances them with a supernatural power to make them grow and flourish.
And I think this is part of the interpretation of today’s Gospel passage, because on the surface it all seems so contradictory. Are we supposed to plan out things or are we supposed to renounce all of our possessions to be a disciple of Jesus?
In short, the answer is: ‘Yes.’ We plan out what we need to plan out (example: I write out my homilies), but we have to follow and obey the promptings of the Spirit who gives us that nudge to zig when we thing we should zag.
Or, quite simply, do I ask God to complete the work of my hands, whatever that work might be? Do I pray for the efforts I give, even if in secular affairs and/or work?
Do I let God transform the garden of my heart as miracle grow transforms a stagnant garden of basil?