The last couple of summers, I have endeavored to be a gardener. I don’t have a lot of space behind my house so I have been limited in what I have been able to do. I’ve gotten pretty good at growing some things, not so good at growing others. There are many things I like about gardening. It feeds a nurturing side of myself. It connects me to the dirt. There is still something kind of magical in watching things grow. But as I have been thinking about it more, what appeals to me most is that gardening is essentially a very hope-filled activity. I put a seed in the ground hoping is that something very different, yet closely related to that seed will result. it’s humbling because no matter how much effort you put in, something out of your control (like weather or the neighbor’s cat) can crush your work.
I did a search on google images using the word “hope”. My original intent for today’s post was to have just images of hope. I may do that tomorrow, but as I sifted through the pictures of Obama, Bob Hope and Hope Solo, there was another set of images that became thematic: pictures of children. It seems that collectively the internet believes that there is nothing more hopeful than to nurture the life of a child. I think I agree with the internet on this one. To nurture life, to watch it grow, to look into tiny eyes and to realize that the person staring back at you could accomplish great things is to feel hope in its purest form.
I write this from the perspective of a parent, knowing that many of my friends may not know now or ever know the joy of parenting. I don’t write this to their exclusion and hopefully this is not read that way. For to live a hopeful life is to live for those things that will outlast you. It is, as the proverb goes “a society grows great when [the old] plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”.
I parent as an act of hope. I teach as an act of hope. I pastor as an act of hope. I plant, water, and prune in people’s lives believing that something better than the little bit I put in will come out. These are seeds of hope, planted in the lives of others. It seems a faithful response to the seeds that others planted in me. I may never see what comes from the work that I do. I can only hope that the world will be better off because I was around.