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Pastor Paul's Ponderings

Pastor Paul reflects on issues of today and how teachings of the Bible can help us on our path.

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November 2, 2022

  I have been a gardener pretty much for as long as I can remember. I was captivated by my grandparent's garden when we visited (once every other year, whether we needed it or not—until we got horses) and played with it as a kid on my own. Through the years there was a lot of trial and error and learning. Once we moved to New Jersey I was ready for my best garden—and orchard--ever! After all, Jersey is noted as being the ‘Garden State’ just read the license plates.
  My first disappointment came when I found the soil in the only possible place for me to the garden was 100% marl, which is a hard slimy blue-gray clay. While it is excellent in nutrition it is so dense that plants can’t expand their roots, and it is impossible to till. I purchased a truckload of ‘top soil’ only to find it to be what looks like the cleanings of a construction site mixed with sand.
Nevertheless, I pressed on! I thought to myself, well it will just be up to me to enrich the soil I have and make it work—so I upped my composting game and got a worm box.
  But I encountered another serious problem—at least for an organic gardener like me: voracious insects and pests which include varmints and deer. To a degree, I had never encountered. Total crop failure ensued several times as I experimented with ways to keep the deer at bay and trap varmints. (One year I counted over 50 various critters trapped and relocated, mostly groundhogs). Furry pests would be bad enough, but I found that insects were an equal nemesis to the deer and varmints to an organic gardener in Jersey.
  I had found a respite from insects in Iowa—probably because of monoculture and the heavy use of insecticides in the surrounding agricultural fields, there just wasn’t any insect problem at all. Jersey was a rude awakening to reality. Perhaps because the same crops that I am attempting to grow in my garden are grown commercially locally, but not on the same scale as in Iowa the insects proliferate, and once the local farm sprays they all head over to my little garden patch, and feast. They laugh at organic remedies.
  What’s a fellow to do?
  I tried different varieties of vegetables and had some luck, but no one would eat the resulting harvest because they looked strange. Eventually, I started experimenting with flowers, which I had previously deemed useless. For me holding and eating produce was what it was all about, not some flower.
  As I was leaving the chicken feed store one day I saw some flower bulbs for sale at half price. What the heck, I'll try them! Dahlias. At the same time, I grabbed a discounted bag of wildflower seeds.
  These two investments have surprised me and provided me with great enjoyment. The Dahlias have flowered like crazy with no care at all, and the flowers are very stunning in my opinion, and the wildflowers produced a late show of Mexican Cosmos, which has given life to a dyeing fall garden. While neither flower seems to be in much demand by the church ladies, I sure find them enjoyable to look at in the garden itself. In no way has this garden venture been what I expected, nor wanted, but it has taken me six years to get to the point of letting it go and celebrating and enjoying what I do have and what is possible in the situation I am currently in.
  Perhaps this is also what life is like too. I am seeing that we humans seldom get what we want, but by the grace of God, we all have the gift of life which contains blessings of its own. It may be up to us to stop complaining about our problems and not having what we want and to find the small but profound blessings we do have--and celebrate them.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Paul

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