It’s October and I’m making one last attempt at fixing the mess of my lawn. I haven’t a green thumb at all and I’m trying to ‘over’ seed to choke out the weeds. As I sit outside watching the sprinkler water the weedy mess, my attention becomes devoted to my grandfather’s white rose bush. First of all, I can’t believe I’ve been able to keep it alive now for 10 years considering that every other plant I’ve tended to has had a short life span. It’s not a beautifully manicured rose bush, but has a variation of small buds, full blooms and rose hips with a few petals hanging on. My grandfather’s rose bush is symbolic of my priorities these days: rarely do I take the time to labour for something beautiful. I find I spend most of my time on the life essentials like food, clean clothes, bills and of course, social media. By slowing down long enough to just sit on a lawn chair (no social media check-ins) I was able to appreciate my grandfather’s un-manicured white rose bush. It’s the only plant in the garden with flowers still on it. Grandpa’s white roses are a reminder to not only slow down and smell the roses, but that beautiful things are an investment.
Throughout my childhood, I watched my grandparents tend to their garden. They never seemed stressed out with 1000 things to do. They were present. They were in the moment. They catered to each plant, pruning, fertilizing and watering them with expertise and care. My sister and I took pleasure in the fruits of their labour enjoying garden picnics with delicious cherry tomatoes, crunchy carrots and homemade desserts with fresh berries from their the garden. I wish I had more time to focus and invest in things that don’t have an immediate result like my health, home or art projects and flourishing relationships.
Jesus said that a man had a fig tree in his vineyard that didn’t produce fruit for 3 years, and told the man that took care of the vineyard to cut it down. This tree was a waste of useful soil. ““Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down”” (Luke 13:6-9). The gardener in the story refuses to give up on the fig tree and knows that if he provides the fig tree with what it needs then it will produce fruit…but if it doesn’t produce fruit a year later, cut it down (Luke 13:6-9).
This story has greater significance than just tending to a plant in hopes that it will produce fruit. It’s about repentance. God is the vineyard owner and Jesus is the one providing us with all that we need to receive repentance and live a fruitful life.
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8
Similar to how I don’t take time to slow down and invest in something ‘great,’ I also don’t regularly repent. I just expect to become that beautiful blooming flower without the need for any pruning. I need to invest in my spiritual health by regularly recognizing that I’m not perfect and I need God to make me more like Him. Repentance is the pruning that allows our lives to bloom.
Taking a few minutes to appreciate what’s always been in my yard, was both a sad reminder that I trade in beauty for quick results, and a joyous memory of my grandfather’s devotion to invest and labour because something beautiful awaits.
I know the deepest longings in my heart need to be fed with those things in life that are free and cost the most. Beauty is all around us but it costs us time to embrace it and labour to bring it to life.
“Psalms 128:2 “You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be!”
At my grandfather’s funeral my grandmother laid one of his white roses across his chest. It was grandpa’s favourite flower. Today I wish I could slow down and take joy in something so simple. Instead I rush to clean up dinner, prepare for the next day and try to quickly solve a serious weed problem in my backyard. Thank goodness grandpa’s striking white roses are the beauty among the sea of weeds that brought me back to fond memories of grandpa and made me stop long enough to smell the roses.
*photos by author