I just finished a super indulgent, Sunday afternoon nap, and can you guess what was on my list to do first when I finally rolled out of bed? Right up there next to check Facebook, pee, and grab a handful of Hot Tamales? I’m quite surprised by my new obsession, but I couldn’t wait to go outside and take a peek at my plants.
As I walked outside in my bare feet and bed hair, I had to wonder what my neighbors might think. I wonder if they catch me strolling out there, five or six times a day, seemingly inspecting the exact same plants that were there just two hours ago. They can’t possibly be any different, can they? Except they are.
This time I noticed the basil. Not the almost-mature plant that I got at the market because I wasn’t patient enough to wait for some to eat. This time I noticed the teeny tiny seedlings that Papa planted from seed for us to transplant into our own bigger pots. For weeks they’ve looked seemingly exactly the same…no progress. But today, after nap, I noticed new leaves. Specifically I noticed that, just like the bigger plant a few feet away, the baby plants also have leaves that grow at right angles to each other, in perpendicular pairs all the way down the stem. There’s something orderly about the way that basil grows that I think I like.
Last week I watched with anticipation as blooms appeared on these irises and then finally burst into their beautiful, floppy selves.
Yesterday I found buds on these super spiky stems for which I still don’t know the name. Lillies, maybe?
Today I noticed the mystery sprouts Chica brought me for Mother’s Day are taller,
and the once questionable beefsteak tomato plant looks like it just might make a comeback, new healthy leaves sprouting from the center.
My daily inspections have me pondering growth these days. I’m fascinated by the tiny plants taking root in the dirt, thinking ahead of the fruit I might enjoy in the summer months. The excitement I feel over the fraction-of-an-inch growth and a new leaf or bud or two is great. But I’m constantly looking for it. Slowing down enough to look and compare and be excited.
My morning’s stroll made me wonder if I would see the same kind of tiny but steady growth in my kids if I started slowing down and looking for it. There are the physical things, like the fact that Bubba is now just tall enough to push the green button as we leave his school or dexterous enough to blow bubbles without spilling the bottle three seconds later. That Chica, when motivated, can get dressed from head to toe without it taking two eternities, or put together a 100 piece puzzle without help. But there are also the more important things, the growth I really have to watch for to realize. Like the moment when Chica just went ahead and gave Bubba the book he wanted to carry into the dining room instead of insisting on keeping the one she found first. Or, just now, when Bubba asked for a treat only 6 times (instead of 20 + a tantrum), gave up, and went willingly back downstairs to play.
And what if I celebrated that growth with them? Even more, what if I attempted to water their growth like my thirsty plants at the base of the driveway? I do know the Source of living water, after all.
As much as I am reluctant to go there, I guess I have to. Don’t you think Jesus must be watching us (er…me) with just as much anticipation, searching for that millimeter of growth to celebrate? I know my peppers and cucumbers and tomatoes and squash are likely months from producing fruit, but I keep watching, keep watering, keep celebrating. I’m tempted to think most days that He gives up watching for my growth after months of being stagnant, stuck spinning my wheels with the same regrets and promises for “once the summer comes.”
But now that I’m tending my own little garden, I’m thinking it’s not like that at all. I’m thinking He’s pleased and maybe even celebrating the millimeter steps I take towards Him once in a while. Like the apology I issued my kids after my own mini-meltdown in the parking lot of the Plaza Dollar Tree last Sunday. Or the prayer I prayed with Bubba when I realized all my own words in the world would ever be enough to help him make better choices at school. Or the grace I (however reluctantly) extended to three boys that irked me in a big way last week at school. Millimeter steps. I’d like to think He may rejoice over those tiny steps instead of just thinking that it’s never enough, always waiting for the fruit of the summer.
Maybe I should do the same.
All my changes come from Him
He who never changes
I’m held firm in the grasp
Of the Rock of all the ages
All is well with my soul
He is God, in control I
know not, all His plans
But I know I’m in His hands