As we were eating breakfast one beautiful spring Saturday my father randomly proclaimed that we should grow a vegetable garden. I was intrigued with the idea because of its spontaneity. So, like explorers in search of lost treasure, the entire family proceeded to follow my father as he led us around our property, looking for the perfect spot. Occasionally he would pause, survey the area, make some statement about slope and sunlight and then proceed to a new location.
Then, making a decision that felt as random as the entire, “Let’s plant a vegetable garden,” idea, my father announced, “Ah, the perfect place!” Ironically (as the saying goes about real estate: “Location, location, location”) I could not help but wonder why it was the plot with the most weeds. No worries, my father had a plan – a plan which involved each of his three sons weeding, hoeing, raking and watering while he went to the feed store to get the seeds and starter plants.
It was hot, dirty work, and my brother’s and I spent the majority of our time complaining. So much so, that whatever earlier enthusiasm I had for my “dad’s great idea” was lost in the bickering. My father clearly felt the same way, for when he returned and heard all the commotion and then saw how little work had been accomplished, he quickly sent us away in a very frustrated voice.
Several hours later, having completely forgotten about the garden, I made my way through the backyard to the swing set, and to my surprise, I ran into my father and saw that he was collecting his tools. He was sweaty, dirty, looked exhausted and yet had a very big smile on his face. “Would you like to see the garden?” he asked. It was incredible. He had created meticulous rows with little signs all designating what had been planted and between each row he had placed a small hose providing water.
I learned something from my dad that day and during the days that followed: getting started is always the most challenging part. After that it just takes ongoing love and nurturing. It is a lesson that continues to find daily application with my faith, my family, my formation, and my friends.