I was gardening the other day and my brain decided it was time to wander. As I'm planting seeds one by one, pulling weeds (which are actually grass in my garden) and aerating the soil with my gardening fork, thoughts of community kept creeping into my brain. Have you ever thought of how gardening and raising children are similar? I guess it would be more proper to say "rearing children", but that just seems odd to me. I'm having a tough time visualizing that where the child comes out on the winning side.
So back to gardening. Let's start with the soil...the foundation for growth. That would be the parents and home, wouldn't you say? The environment needs to be safe, provide for the needs of the child (or seed), and accommodating to encourage growth. When children are first born, we swaddle them, feed them, keep them close and watch over them with care and joy. So, we press the seed firmly into that soil so that it latches on, cover with enough soil to protect it but not so much that we smother it, water it, and keep it sheltered from dangerous conditions. You with me so far?
As the seed begins to sprout and pop through the soil, we can now see that we have done our job. We have a seedling emerging! To compare this stage to a child, perhaps we can think of it as when they begin to react to us...to our voices, to our expressions, to our touches. We can see each other more clearly---I mean, really look at each other physically and emotionally. Do we stop feeding them and caring for them...let nature takes its course? Not on your life! This is when teaching and learning begin, and it's two-sided, my friend. We find out what works in this relationship and what doesn't because we are each unique individuals. Seedlings can be that way, too. Perhaps the pH is just a little different in this part of the garden, or maybe that corn stalk is shading this seedling at the wrong time of day (or the right time), or maybe this seed just isn't as strong as the others in the pack.
When it comes time for the fruit to develop---wait right there. What's the fruit? I would say that in this metaphor, the fruit represents a talent, a gift, an attitude, a personality, a natural tendency, the purpose for being. So, when it comes time for the fruit to develop and reveal its beauty, what should we do (we being the parents AND society)? What if it's not what we expected or hoped it would be? Have we done EVERYTHING to provide good for that seed, seedling, and plant (that baby, that child, that family)?
Ah!!! Now we come to community.
Gardening takes patience, commitment and compassion.
Relationships take patience, commitment and compassion.
IMHO it's well worth the fruit of our labors.
"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live."
– George Bernard Shaw