Tuesday evening, I arrived home exhausted from a flurry of a day at the hospital when I noticed the garden gates flung wide open. Gingerly limping on my aching feet (good old plantar fasciitis, the nemesis of nurses) to the garden, I was shocked to see shreds of plants strewn all over the ground. My first thought was a family of moose had just enjoyed a dinner and dance party in our vegetable garden, but then I remembered I’m not in Kansas (Alaska) anymore. The ground was wet, so obviously a storm and had just come by, but the damage was far worse than wind alone could have accomplished. One of my housemates explained that a powerful wind and hail storm had just stopped by for a visit, leaving colossal carbohydrate carnage as his hostess gift (I didn’t invite him over to begin with.) Too tired and exasperated to survey the full extent of damage, I took my son out to dinner. On our trek to find tacos, we drove by a young apple orchard with dozens of uprooted trees. It was a very sobering sight, knowing the labor and money those farmers had invested and just lost.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5
If you have been following our farming experiences, you know it’s been a series of hits and losses and I’ve been holding on to hope and sanity with clenched fists and dirty fingernails. Recently I’ve struggled as our sweet little turkey poults keep falling over dead for no known reason. We’ve lost five of the original nine and it’s traumatizing to find them. The humidity has been fierce, so we’ve been working hard to naturally fight off the funguses, and swarms of Japanese beetles are leaving little bits of lace where leaves once fluttered. With much effort, I have been keeping the squash bugs from only killing half of the zucchini and thankfully our deep mulching system is helping save the plants from our crazy cycle of flooding followed by intense heat with weeks of no rain at all. I am learning that farming in the south east means one is always on the edge of pestilence or disaster, until you are pushed smack in the middle of it, which happens on a regular basis. Nature is very cantankerous and pushy around here.
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14
Tuesday night I went to bed muttering something similar to the title of this post. It was a couple of days before I had the emotional energy to survey all our gardens and orchard; it was a demoralizing scene. My housemates helped clean up the uprooted and broken plants; Ariel spent hours cleaning up the hanging baskets which initially looked completely lost- thanks to her they are recovering and we still have flowers to enjoy. As I noted the busted up and pulverized leaves, I braced myself for a bigger fight with the pests and fungus. Natural farming is based on keeping plants healthy verses poisoning bugs and chemically fertilizing. It is understood that healthy plants withstand reasonable amounts of trauma, but weak plants attract sickness and pests and have less reserve to fight them. We now have a farm full of broken and stressed plants to somehow protect.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
This led to an interesting front porch discussion of yet another way that nature teaches us spiritual truths. When we become overwhelmed or hurt, whether physically, spiritually or emotionally, it makes us less resistant to the lies of the enemy. It’s during these weak times that we need to be especially diligent, and have others around to help defend us from pending attack. I currently have a beautiful friend experiencing tremendous pain and stress, and in hopelessness she says ridiculous things about herself; I know she is just repeating the lies Satan is whispering in her heart as she is down on the ground suffering the latest blow. There’s not much I can do besides lie on the floor beside her and remind her who she is and how much she is loved. And feed her. We nourish each other with presence and truth. Love makes us more resilient. This is what the sweet little community in my house did for me. It’s an all organic and natural remedy:)
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2
There is another amazing thing about plants I’ve been reading about- they communicate with each other and warn of attack!
When one plant is being overwhelmed by pests or drought, it produces chemicals that warn the others to protect themselves, AND it calls in predator insects that will come and eat the pests! This reminds me of prayer. During my most challenging trials I have found others in the same place and we are faithful to pray for each other. We send up prayers instead of VOCs (plant chemicals) that align us with God’s heart and invite Him to work His will in our situations (much superior to predator insects.)
For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you. Psalm 71:5-6