By Rev. Debra Jene Collum
Chatfield United Methodist
Do you ever sing words to a song and realize you are singing them “wrong”? Sometimes it is embarrassing, sometimes serendipitous. I learned that the song I sing to my seeds when I am planting a garden aren’t the words as written by David Mallett. However, in this case it is serendipitous because the way I sing this song reflects my own faith and belief in how God and I interact when we garden together. I hum and sing to my seeds and plants as I put them into the soil: “Inch by inch, row by row, God bless these seeds I sow…God make this garden grow as the rains come tumbling down.” Not quite right; but perfect for my own and God’s ears.
I consider it my garden prayer. And for me, planting a garden is a prayer. The whole enterprise of gardening is a prayer. A prayer of anticipation as I put little tiny seeds into soil and expect lettuce, cucumbers, peas and beans to multiply hundred-fold in a few weeks. A prayer of hope as I put tender tomato and pepper plants into warming soil, expecting brilliant and tasty sauces and sandwiches in August.
As the weeks go along, my prayers become prayers of care and concern. For the last few years, I, like many of you, have battled Japanese beetles. These pests strip the foliage from plants leaving behind skeletons that can’t take in the nurture of the sunlight and rains I prayed for as I planted my seeds. So, my prayers become action oriented, picking off those awful bugs, spraying the plants with soapy water, setting out traps, and mulching carefully and deeply to give the plants what they need to continue to thrive.
Soon, the prayers turn to prayers of thanksgiving; for abundance and bounty and food enough to share. My freezers become restocked with tomatoes and squash. My canner gets dragged out of storage and steam fills my kitchen as jars seal with that satisfying ping.
Prayers truly do surround my gardening. They are the true seeds that get planted every spring.
Therefore, it was appropriate that in worship on Sunday recently, we accompanied our prayers for the world with seed planting. As I spoke our intentions, I placed little tiny lettuce seeds into a bowl of soil. I didn’t do this for just the metaphorically cuteness of the action. But as a deep way of illustrating the importance of our prayers.
On that Sunday, we prayed: that we would care for the earth and all her inhabitants. We prayed: that we would be people of generosity and faithfulness. And we prayed, as we planted tiny seeds of faith: for the people of Ukraine and for peace. Were these prayers enough? Adequate? I believe, yes, they are.
Just as lettuce seeds are so very tiny, yet provide an abundance of good things, so do our prayers. It is not a small thing to pray now for whatever intentions God puts on your heart. For we can all pray together: Inch by inch, seed by tiny seed, O God hear our prayers we plant in the fertile soil of your divine love and grace.