I have developed this deep passion for gardening. And not like some little hobby or side job, no, we’re talking a borderline fixation. An obsession, truthfully. Or maybe it’s a compulsion. Compulsively, I am obsessed with planting seeds. And harvesting trees. And cultivating plants. And it is seriously the coolest thing in this universe. (Besides being a mom of five insane boys, but you get my point.) I love love love my plants.
I had a pretty deep talk with my stepson awhile back about the necessity of certain curricula in education. Specifically, why biology matters. He’s so much like me it’s crazy… Math is for geniuses, history is for boring people, music is for everyone and reading is for real. But I was expressing to him that in college I was blessed with the coolest, nuttiest Biology professor, who brought the subject to life for me and helped me discover endless possibilities in the basics of the subject. Energy, for example. The fact that we are (on a cellular level) composed of the exact same material as stars in distant galaxies. Or matter; the same processes that make life on earth possible (gravity, relativity, etc) are the same processes that maintain order in our universe. We are all a bunch of atoms, molecules, tiny particles of elements that come together and form mass, and that’s exactly how God created it to be. The microscopic level of life is a reflection of the macroscopic. The details might seem boring at first, but when you start to discover the magic of life and how intricately woven the structure of life is within every part of our existence–and how unbelieveably complicated it is–it becomes clear that we have NO IDEA how great, how infinite, how indescribably complex our God is.
In attempt to give him a hands-on idea of what I meant, and why biology matters, and what makes it fun, I invited him to join me in the adventures of planting stuff. He loved it. His zinnias are beautiful. :))) (A super cool mom moment for me.) We planted a baby tree. A couple of weeks later, he totally lost interest. His excitement in learning about the PROCESSES of seed growth and plant development flew out the window the second he stopped getting immediate gratification. Once the seed sprouted, the magic was over for him.
What struck me is how we are all like that. We discover something new, it sucks us in because it is novel and different and exciting… And then it becomes familiar and our enthusiasm fades. We see the changes as they happen, and when it happens slowly we forget it is changing at all.
The Holy Spirit showed me something today. As I walked out to get the mail, I couldn’t believe how much our maple tree has grown. It was only about ten inches tall when we planted it. It’s now sitting at about four feet. It’s gorgeous. It’s healthy. And I felt so proud… But I started thinking about the biology of it, and how people and plants have so much in common. The faster a tree grows, the weaker it is in structure, because the roots take time to develop and gain depth. The more slowly something grows, the better established it becomes and the higher its chances of survival.
The lessons we learn in life, and the time it takes us to learn them–to grow from them–is much the same. The longer we meditate on the purpose of a painful experience, the more purpose we are able to absorb from it. When you plow through the tough times as quickly as you can without stopping to look around and evaluate how you got there and why, you end up wasting a large part of your life retracing the same terrain; over and over and over. You have to pay attention in life, take your time, and give your best effort.
I told him once that the most important thing I’ve learned in my life is to always give 100% of yourself to everything you do. Whether it is your Biology homework, playing with your baby brothers, helping with chores or learning how to play guitar… Whether it is exciting or not, interesting or not; just give all of yourself. The moral of each story always comes at the end. And if we spend our precious time worrying only about what we have to learn from it, and never really investing ourselves to the task itself, we discover the hard way that we end up never learning the lesson at all.
The tree we planted is actually a slow growing tree, compared to other species. But it has grown significantly. And what’s really cool is that once we stopped staring at the freaking thing, and watching our clocks saying “Has it grown yet? Has it grown yet?” …It actually, finally, grew.
We spend so much of our life asking these sorts of questions; “Are we there yet? Are we done yet? Is it here yet? Is it time now?,” that we suddenly look back and realize time flew by, we can’t get it back, and we never stopped to experience the PRESENT. People have regrets in life because they never learn how to just be. It’s always hindsight or foresight, what could’ve been or what should be, what we’ve been through or what we hope for… God is telling us to see the right here, right now. Because the growth that lasts is the growth that takes its time, absorbs all that it can, and uses 100% of its energy; consistently, patiently, completely.
Driftwood you find in rivers and lakes is typically dogwood, or cottonwood, or birch. These types of trees lack the aged maturity to withstand inclimate weather. The storm hits, and the trees that grew too quickly are uprooted or destroyed in the blink of an eye. The slow growing things last the longest. It’s human nature to want to grow quickly. And there’s a time and place for that. But more often, the growth that ensures our endurance, and our perseverance, is the growth that takes time.