Last spring, we started a garden project with the students at Tecumseh Elementary School. The students planted pumpkin seeds in trays that they kept in their classroom. They watered and watched. As we worked with them we reminded them that not every seed we plant will germinate, and not every shoot will grow strong enough to flower and make pumpkins.
Secretly many of us were worried that we would have a poor result, and that the students would be disappointed in us and in themselves. We prayed some fervent prayers over the straw bales we planted in. And God sent us rain abundantly!
The pumpkins flowered and grew, the vines snaking down the bales and across the rows, putting out tendrils, leaves, and, yes—pumpkins. At first, the pumpkins were not obvious. The small pumpkins were hidden behind the leaves and finding them required some patient exploration. It reminded me of those puzzles I used to love in children’s magazines, where images were hidden in a drawing—a duck hidden in the fold of a cowboy hat, a lion resting in a tree. Later on, it was easier to find the pumpkins because there we so many. White pumpkins, golden pumpkins, striped pumpkins, sweet fat lovely pumpkins. They were the size of cherry tomatoes, then of golf balls, and now some of them are baseball-sized. The varieties we planted were miniature pumpkins, to make it easy for our students to carry them, so our growing season is nearing its end. What we are seeing in our hidden picture puzzle now is about the hope we have to share in the joy of the harvest. Each time we go to the garden to check the pumpkins, we get excited, imagining the children coming back on harvest day. Sometimes we also worry that before harvest day comes there will be a blight or other calamity and our fear of disappointment will be reality. I have even imagined camping out in the garden to act as a living scarecrow.
What’s hidden in this garden picture? The delight of the gardeners to share the miracle of life. Lots of carrying water hoses, along with prayers for success. Sun, bees, soil, hope. An investment in the future. Can you see those things, hidden in this picture?