“I came that they might have life and have it abundantly…”
“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.”
This summer, for the first time, I planted tomatoes. It is odd that it took me this long to take up this new aspect (for me) of gardening. I have, at times, been an ardent gardener of roses (I once had over 100 plants); I always plant an herb garden that features basil. When the kids were little, we would plant pumpkins and hope they grew big enough by Halloween. We have a pear tree and an apple tree, but never thought to launch into the garden edibles. But for some reason this year I did…maybe empty nest syndrome. For whatever reason, there I was this spring watching them grow their flowers that soon turned into little green tomatoes and then ripened into yummy red tomatoes. I have Roma and Beefsteak. Ann made a sauce with the Roma and we have enjoyed the many tomato sandwiches made with the Beefsteak etc. etc. As everyone knows there is no comparison between a grown tomato and a store-bought tomato. They are different in kind. So we have enjoyed feeling like we were part of the earth as the tomatoes came in along with the Basil and Pears and Apples. Oddly, we have a tree full of apples. Some years we don’t get any. This year we will be making apple butter, pies and anything else we can think of. (Remember the old Disney Johnny Appleseed cartoon? There’s a lot of work to do!)
In the summer of tomatoes and apples I took to sitting on the front porch on one of the rockers we have had out there for years. I don’t know why but we hardly ever sat out there. But now we do. It may be because the dog loves to be out in the yard and it is easy to watch her from there—but hopefully it is more than that. Empty nesting has its upside and part of it might be that there is a smidge more time to enjoy. And we are.
This wonderful sense of contentment has been heartening but has not been undisturbed. Of course, the reverberations from the larger world make all the blessings of the summer past seem less than ultimate. As I write this, Houston is barely starting to recover, Florida is still digging out, Mexico has endured a terrible earthquake, and hurricane Jose swirls around not knowing which way to go…out to sea we all hope. The disasters pile up beyond imagination. Irma and Harvey came after the darkness in Charlottesville. That was also something beyond imagination. I believe in free speech and assembly but it is so troubling that there could be even a few who wanted to march under a flag that we fought so desperately against not so long ago. I wonder what has turned to bring such anger and darkness. The summer has been filled with a continuing polarization in the country that brings bad news almost on a daily basis. The reports from the Middle East bring more and more word of innocents suffering and little solution. So even though my soul is content at home, the world still aches chaotically. However, I believe, the chaos does not negate the light. It just makes clear how much more light is needed. That is why I am so glad that the church year starts again, now. I know how revived it makes me feel to see once again the gathering of faith that so nourishes all of us. As I am fond of saying and Jesus taught. The work is always the same in this world. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” The call is to bring the best of ourselves to bear in the world and so believe that it matters not just to us here but to everyone everywhere. Love one another abundantly… it matters a lot and it starts here, now, again.
Tim Ives is the minister at the Scarborough Presbyterian Church. He is also a New York State licensed Psychoanalyst in private practice in Bedford Hills, New York.