Bringing Good Things to Life

This weekend my husband and I went to Agway to pick out our seeds for our vegetable garden. And I have to say, I have never been a tomboy kind of girl, I like my Anthropologie perfume and my dangling earrings, and someone might ask me if I’m lost if I wandered around too long in a place that specializes in mulch and mowers. But I LOVE Agway. Because I love the idea of cultivating something small and good and bringing it to life.

I am a gardening novice. Last year was our first try. We planted the heirloom tomato seeds my sister gave me too late, and the frost came too soon for them to flourish. But our Italian green beans were the best I’ve ever had–with a little lemon juice, butter, and fresh-cracked pepper. And I can remember the grand entrance of green spouts in my kitchen window herbs last spring, and how it was like an adrenaline kick to the wintered-over heart.

So when you place a sunlight-starved girl in front of rows and rows of colorful seed packets all for $2 and under, how can she resist?

But I think, at its root, this is more than spring fever. And I don’t think its a stretch to say that its in human nature to want to cultivate, a legacy that traces back to Eden, the garden God lovingly created for His people in which to dwell, and which He charged them to care for. I love Wendell Berry’s connection between our food and theology that he writes in The Gift of Good Land,

“To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.”

 

I believe there is a sacramental grace in the simple, sustainable, and made-from-scratch. There is frustration too. I don’t always look at my sink full of crusty dishes as a sacrament. I am disheartened to invest such care in seeds only to find them stillborn under the soil. And I am pretty sure I am cursed for life when it comes to homemade pizza dough. But in between, there are pockets of incredible grace. When I plant a seed, host a meal, share some bread, I feel that I am engaging in the work of creating and cultivating, and to me, this feels like a blessing. There’s still something in me that is thrilled to bring good things to life.

Where do you encounter sacramental grace in the everyday? How do you bring good things to life in small and daily ways?

P.S. I’m tinkering with my blog look…what do you think? I’m open to suggestions! 

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  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com Ed_Cyzewski

    I like the blog look and I love Wendell! Glad to hear you’re gardening. We start a lot of our seeds inside, but then you need to pamper them a bit with watering and hardening them gradually to the outdoors. On the plus side, they’re a little more established if cool weather hits. 

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Thanks! Yes, Wendell Berry is extremely quotable and I love his work. We’re starting our seeds indoors too, kind of fun to see them grow!

  • http://sayable.net/ Lore Ferguson

    “I believe there is a sacramental grace in the simple, sustainable, and made-from-scratch. There is frustration too.”

    Yes. Love that. We just put in a raised-bed garden a few weeks ago (Texas soil isn’t really great for growing, so we had to buy it all (oh how I miss NY!)) and everything is popping through and up and out and it’s all so beautiful!

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      I think the frustration is part of the fall, residual from Adam’s curse in working the ground. Your garden against all odds sounds beautiful! Enjoy! 

  • http://twitter.com/everydayliturgy Everyday Liturgy

    I am giving a lecture on Wendell Berry next week at Nyack. We just got our seeds in the mail last week. I’m looking forward to sowing them in the next few weeks.

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Oh yeah? I love his work, and need to read more of it. We’re excited about starting our seedlings! 

  • http://everydayawe.com/ Stephanie Spencer

    Oh, I love that quote. Sounds like an interesting book.

    I think this is why I like cooking. I don’t like using recipes. I love the challenge of looking at the ingredients we have and bringing them together into something new. Making food is a creativity necessary for living. 

    I love what you wrote here: “When I plant a seed, host a meal, share some bread, I feel that I am engaging in the work of creating and cultivating, and to me, this feels like a blessing.” I agree. I think the power to create is part of our identity as image-bearers of God. 

    Hope your garden grows well this year! 

  • Felicemifa.wordpress.com

    Yes to this! Every year I go crazy trying to grow things, and every year it ends poorly. Oh well! There’s a story about hope hidden in their somewhere, because I just keep on trying.

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      I like those kinds of stories! Keep trying and growing! 

  • http://twitter.com/BillyKangas Billy Kangas
    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Hip hip hooray for Wendell! I like how we can all agree on that note :)

  • http://vaccinius.blogspot.com/ Anders

    I find pleasure in working on internet. Real life is to noisy. :-)

    NOISE

    A challenge of the modern life
    is noise, in which you have no choice
    other than to be in strife.
    You loose affection in the noise.

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      It’s good to step out of the noise, isn’t it?

      • http://vaccinius.blogspot.com/ Anders

         HOME

        My home is where my heart is,
        my home my castle showing this.
        At home I am safe and sound
        just fooling no-one – not around.
        :-)

  • http://twitter.com/EatWithJoy Rachel Stone

    I love this post, and that quote from Wendell Berry!

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Rachel, thanks for dropping by! Wendell Berry is just too quotable for his own good. 

  • Kathie Sherman

    Stephanie, there is so much that you and I have in common.  I happened upon your blog as I was looking for a prayer for The Blessing of a New Home.  I googled those exact words and it brought me to your blog.  I am really interested to know where you worship and feed your faith.  Each of your entries fascinates me.  

    Your closing prayer from your House Blessing is now saved in my Mac as a card to give to those who are having a House Blessing.

    My husband is an Episcopal Priest and in just a few weeks we head to a resort on Lake Michigan for him to officiate at one of our son’s weddings.  We will be staying in the home that he will soon share with his wife to be.  I wanted to pay to have the house cleaned after we leave and before they return from a short time together alone, at the resort where he proposed to her.  I thought it would be nice to make a card in which I would send the check for the expense of the cleaning.  So, now your prayer has become a card, which will be shared with many people to come.  

    Thanks for sharing all that you have shared.

    Kathie

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Kathie, thanks for reading! I have to give my husband credit for writing out the house blessing, I loved what he came up with, and it has become significant to us both. That’s a great gift for your son and his wife to have the house cleaned, and I hope they are blessed by the card! 

      To answer your church question, I grew up in a Presbyterian church, then went to a German Reformed church in Chicago, and now we attend a Methodist church…although truth be told, my heart longs for a good Episcopal church! I work through the Book of Common Prayer at home and love the liturgy, as I’m sure you do as well. 

      Thanks so much for dropping by! Blessings on your son’s upcoming wedding.