On Gardening and May Day

It is May Day eve, and it is raining hard. For hours, the sky has threatened its downpour, and now it has come. I hear the pelting on the roof and I hear the wind. Inside, I am safe and warm.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow is May Day. Tomorrow, the sun will shine. Tomorrow, “the flowers will appear on the earth, for the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”  [Song of Solomon 2:12]  May Day will come.

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But on a day when we should be celebrating spring, our local newspaper tells of rifts in the community, of a Board of Supervisors who continues to battle within its ranks. I’d like to bring them to my house and put them all in Time Out until they can sort it out amongst themselves. But I can’t. These seven grown men and one woman should be trying to leave the world a better place instead of feuding for rank and power. Instead, they make front page headlines and bring shame to our county. Little wonder that there is strife on the streets when leaders won’t pave the way. Our national news tells of riots and friction in cities in our nation. There is trouble on every hand,  and the rain continues in torrents tonight.

While there is much disarray in the world around us, there are still beautiful things happening. If we but look for them, we can find catch-‘em-doing good moments.

photo by Mindy Emswiler

Instead of looking around us and allowing fear to clutch our hearts, we could be reaching out to others. Rather than worrying about tomorrow, maybe we can make a difference today, beginning in our own little corner of the world. We can’t expect our nation to succeed if our communities succumb to evil. We can’t expect our communities to thrive if our homes and our churches are failing. We can’t expect our homes or churches to be successful if we as individuals are not who we ought to be.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as our 34th president (1953-1961), believed in farming. “President and Mrs. Eisenhower owned only one home, their Gettysburg farm. Purchased in 1950, Eisenhower’s goal was to improve the soil and to leave the land better than he found it.  . . .

“Looking back on his farming efforts Eisenhower said, “There was a  chance, I thought, to prove that careful husbandry could restore the land to its original fertility….  Although we haven’t achieved the greatest success…there are enough lush fields to assure me that I shall leave the place better than I found it.’ ”

So it is in careful husbandry. In the nurturing of tender shoots, in the fertilization of our own pastures, in reaching out to others, we not only brighten their world but ours as well. I think about that every May Day.

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I think about that because one dismal April day, a teacher took the time to share a story with such exuberance that it invoked a response in some of her students. Forty-eight years later, a tradition that was begun from that story lives on. [You can read about it here.]
may basket one on doorWho would have dreamed how the telling of that story would impact hundreds of people every May 1st for years to come? Just think: forty-eight years of tradition and giving because someone chose to till the soil and plant a seed instead of digging up dirt and throwing it around.


Who would have thought that a Savior, with only twelve uneducated, uncultured men, could turn the world upside down?  Two thousand years later, I still have hope because He chose to die so we could live. Who would have thought?!

If only we could realize that “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  [Jim Elliot, missionary murdered in Ecuador in 1956.]

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And on this first day of May, let’s celebrate the season of spring. Instead of clutching selfishly for power and prestige, instead of trying to make sure things are done our way, let’s get in the trenches and till the soil of our world. Reach out and give to others; the fragrance of your gift will continue for weeks and years to come. And, as lush fields appear, you can be assured that you are leaving the world a better place than how you found it.

And a Happy May Day to you!



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