A Time to Plant

There’s a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, and in March, I do a little of both. Winter is on its last leg, and I’ve been repairing, repotting, replanting, and rethinking the best ways to keep deer out of the garden this year. I realize there was a lot of “re” in that last sentence, but that’s only to my point. “Re” is a prefix meaning again. I’ve planned, planted, and potted before, but the year grew old and cold, so it’s time to do everything again.

It’s time to pluck up what was planted, and to plant it all again.

On Monday, I took a spade to the back edge of the garden and sliced out a trench. The farmer who lives up on the highway offered us the wood to an oak tree he’d taken down, so I put two beams end-to-end for a makeshift border. That meant tearing up last year’s dead grass and thorny weeds, and when I’d finished, sweat and bark clung to my shirt.

The seedlings I started in February are thirsty and leggy, so on Tuesday, I transplanted them outside. It was delicate work, the little things flopping over and the soil blocks crumbling in my fingers. I touched their leaves the way I touch Lila Joy’s newborn face— afraid I’ll bruise it.

And so a gardener needs both a strong spade and gentle hands. He must be willing to do two kinds of work— to both pluck up and to replant –- because you can’t tuck seedlings into a ground that hasn’t been furrowed. In turn, a good gardener can’t always be furrowing. In the words of the prophet, “he does not thresh… forever” (Is. 28:28).

“Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?

Does he continually open and harrow his ground?

When he has leveled its surface,

does he not scatter dill, sow cumin,

and put wheat in rows

and barley in its proper place,

and emmer as the border?”

~ Isaiah 28:24-25

We pluck up, but only so we can replant, and the Great Gardener does the same. Isaiah is a record of this Gardener stretching out his hand over his people— either rooting up the brambles or tenderly planting a remnant. Either burning the chaff or sowing brittle seeds. He has a strong right arm to rip out the thorns of idolatry choking his people, but he also has gentle hands to gather those people back to himself, settling them in the soil of their true home once again.

“In that day,

‘A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!

I, the LORD, am its keeper;

every moment I water it…’

In the days to come Jacob shall take root,

Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots

and fill the whole world with fruit.

~ Isaiah 27:2-3, 6

3 thoughts on “A Time to Plant

  1. Recently I’ve been memorizing the end of Isaiah 61 into 62, and 61:11 comes to mind: “For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as the garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.”
    I love the beauty of Isaiah so much, and your words are such an encouragement. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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