(with Martin Luther, Day by Day, p.426)
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There’s a small patch of exposed earth near the fence in our backyard where the previous owner had removed a tree. This summer, we planted a variety of seeds in that spot and lined it with river stones to make a rudimentary vegetable garden. Most of our produce was meager, with the notable exception of the cucumbers. What a joy it turned out to be to kneel down, pull back the leaves, and discover a newly plump cucumber, ready to pick, peel, and slice, where there hadn’t been one only days before.
Think of the quiet flourishing of that cucumber. If not for our attentiveness to that minuscule plot of land, it might have grown completely unnoticed, nurtured by the One who provides not only for specific human needs but who also feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field. Think of the many ways that God’s provision goes largely unseen – the tiny buds that will explode into color come spring, the safe haven deep in the forest for a hibernating animal, the rush of a remote stream, cold and clean.
We sow bountifully, so we reap a bountiful harvest. And for that we give thanks at harvest time, expressing our gratitude with praise and generosity. As Luther puts it, “A believing heart well perceives how our plowing and sowing would be lost unless God’s goodness were here at work.” But, God sows seeds of promise and reaps abundant life even where human agency is absent, renewing the face of the Earth in spite of our frequent carelessness. So, let’s also give thanks for God’s hidden provision, and rededicate ourselves to our original vocation as stewards of God’s whole creation, that we might not only till but also keep, not only cultivate but also deeply love, the great garden in which we live.