My father’s father was a sharecropper. He grew cotton in the heart of the deep South. The stories my father tells of his own childhood remind me that he was not too far removed from the South of plantation owners, slaves, and a hierarchy that kept people “in their place.” My father grew up Depression Era poor. He and his four brothers got one new pair of shoes a year if they were lucky. He laughs now, telling how they would walk to church barefoot to save wear and tear – stopping just down the road from the church to put on their shoes before “goin to meetin.” My father knew hardships and difficulty that I cannot even imagine, but he overcame the poverty of his youth and provided his own children with a college education and lots of shoes.
Watching my father over the years, I have discovered that some of the hardships he endured as a boy engraved deep and lasting lines on his soul. He became some things as a young man that he still is today. The most prominent among them – he became a miracle watcher.
There was no way for a sharecropping family to survive the Great Depression without a vegetable garden. My father grew up with many responsibilities: daily farm chores, his school lessons, endless hours of hoeing and picking cotton, and on top of that – tending the family garden. With five hungry boys to feed, the family garden was as vital as any part of the rural homestead, but it also meant more work for those boys and more hours laboring under the hot Alabama sun. You would think that a young man would learn to hate dependence on the soil and hard work for food, especially as he became financially able to buy baskets full of fresh produce with virtually no effort at all – but that was never the case with my dad.
Every year of my life that I can recall, my dad has put in a garden, some years a very large garden. He is now 78, and just this week I saw the smile on his face as some friends came to help him plant the soil that he had prepared for gardening. My dad grows tomato plants in wire cages that tower over your head. That man could work for Heinz with all the tomatoes he can produce in a year. It is amazing what gardening skills he has acquired in his life-long pursuit of what was a necessity and now is a grand hobby. My dad loves to garden.
As I sat with him this week and reminisced a bit, he reminded me that it is really not as much the gardening, as it is the miracle that he loves. He said with a twinkle in his eye, “to put a seed in the ground and watch it sprout, to watch it grow and become something so beautiful…that is a miracle.” It truly is a stunning reality that a little seed can produce such a multiplication of beauty and bounty. One small seed, lovingly tended, can become a source of so much goodness. After 78 years, that one truth is still awe-inspiring to my father. He lives to see it. I fear the day he is no longer able to garden, because I am convinced that it is what keeps him going. He found a source of awe and wonder in his life, and he has capitalized on it. In doing so, it became life giving to him and a blessing to so many others with whom he shares his garden.
My question is this, what amazes you? Are you able to connect with the awe and wonder of life? Can you see the little miracles that are happening around you – the way the seasons faithfully change, the patterns and habits of wildlife, the majesty of the ocean and her hidden secrets; the spectacular mystery of how all humanity is connected? There are miracles to be found – often in the most mundane and arduous of situations. In the toil of life we must spy the gifts of beauty – the miracles – lest we loose hope and fade into nothingness. Seek your miracles.
“Goodness believes in miracles”
A “Good” Idea:
Share a small miracle from your own life.