My Grandfather loved his garden, he found time everyday to go there. Some days he sang as he weeded through his endless rows of tomatoes. Other days, he spoke about life, about his God or asked me about my school work. The whole time he was stringing poles for his beans, watering his tiny pepper sprouts or simply pulling weeds. At other times he remained quiet looking attentively at his squash or at his cantaloupe patch. No matter what he did, my Grandfather radiated joy and peace which in some way he transferred to his vegetables and me.
Whether in drought or in flooding rain, Grand pop was his pleasant, even tempered self, and his vegetables responded to his expansive positive outlook. I cannot remember a season when Grand pop’s garden didn’t produce more than we could eat. Like him his vegetables accepted the weather at hand and did their best. Grand pop’s presence had that kind of magnetism.
Next to Grand pop’s garden stood his brother Carmen’s garden. But there was a difference. Carmen trudged to his garden everyday. Whether hot and humid or rainy and cool, he complained equally. He was a curmudgeon no matter what he was doing. Nothing made Carmen happy, and his peppers, tomatoes, stringbeans and squash responded in kind. His harvest yielded tiny vegetables with unrecognized tastes. It seemed his spoilsport attitude infected his crop quite the opposite from my Grandfather. And the sad fact is , it happened every year. Carmen’s attitude bore a puny harvest year after year.
Meanwhile Grandpop’s annual harvest was abundant; we ate fresh vegetables everyday, gave extras to neighbors and our family, and we still had enough for canning. Everybody thought my grandfather was a miracle worker. In a sense he was, but his miracle was simple, it was just a joyous and positive attitude. My grandfather knew this and poured his cheery attitude all over his flowering vegetables. And they thrived on its zesty tang.
As we tend our personal gardens, what kind of a gardener do we want to be? Do we want to cultivate like my Grand pop or his brother, Carmen? Grand pop’s approach teaches us how to yield the better crop. While Carmen’s approach can lead to hunger from a scarcity of produce.
This is true in our lives too. If we complain and struggle each day we live, we get nowhere. We are miserable and make those around us miserable as well. No one wins in a negative climate. What is needed is the faith to shake free of what isn’t working and embrace what is. This can turn a small return into a huge reward for all.
The key is to hold onto this core belief everyday: God loves us equally and the same! No one gets more than any other. God has only one goal that when our gardening on this earth is finished, we join Him in heaven. God is optimistic about this. If we believe as God does, we can foster this same approach too. And like my grandfather’s garden, it will thrive from its life producing vitality
When tending our life garden today, try the following:
- Count joys regularly, never our sorrows. We know that “bad” things happen to everyone, but joyous things do too. Allow these joyous moments to nourish us and never allow sorrows to take root . When sadness thrives, our entire crop chokes.
- We are Good people, who sometimes do dumb things: When “dumb” things happen, apologize, forgive yourself and move on. These moments do not mean we are bad people. It means what we said or did is hurtful. At these times remember we have a savior, grace heals, and we move on. We have today to make good on what we didn’t do well yesterday.
- Always live in Hope. We have to remember that Hope is the virtue about God’s faithfulness, not our faithfulness. God never gives up, even when we falter. If we hold on to Hope, we hold on to God.
- Each day find a way God cares for you, and be grateful. We are God’s children, and because we are-we matter. This is a simple truth, but makes all the difference.
- Avoid the “Poor Me” Syndrome: “Why does everything happen to me?” is never uttered in our garden. We know life is unfair, not only to us, but to everyone. Yet, God blesses us all equally. It’s up to us to take this blessing and “run with it.” God is our principal cheerleader , who is always ready to help. We simply need to let Him!
My grandfather practiced the above approach and his garden grew. When we apply this same approach to our garden, we can be as joyous-and our harvest bountiful.
“Attitude is Everything” –just ask my Grandfather!