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  • Rob Odum

How's Your Garden Growing?

As July turns to August I am starting to see more and more produce turning up in odd places. There was mystery zucchini left on our front steps, and this morning Jeannine left a bag of beautiful tomatoes on my desk. How is your garden faring this strange summer?


Several years ago, we converted our back yard into a mini farm, and we have already harvested our 9 varieties of garlic, and are looking forward to another good year for peppers. I have spent far too much time weeding this year, and it seems that there is no end to the purslane that loves our garden so much.


Are you familiar with purslane? I am sure you have seen it growing up from cracks in the pavement, or maybe in your tomato box. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is that weed with the thick red stem and four spoon shaped leaves. It often has a yellow flower. When I started weeding it last week the job looked impossible until I discovered something interesting about the way it grows.


I discovered that if you find the center of the plant and pull out from the center, you can pull up quite a large area because it grows outward in a circular shape. This made the task much easier, and much less daunting.


As I started researching purslane, I discovered that it is a treasured plant in many countries and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids. It is quite tasty when added to a salad.


I have started to reframe how I look at purslane. It is no longer a contemptable weed, but a welcome, healthy bonus blessing that the Creator offers us each year in our garden. During these difficult times, I think it is healthy to try to reframe things, to switch the way we view our circumstances and the events in our lives.


Take wearing masks and social distancing for example. Yes, it is annoying to have to wear a mask, particularly in the dog days of August. And yes, it is very annoying that we should not gather with family, friends, and church members like we want to. However, if we reframe the way we look at these annoyances, we can see that we are continuing to care for the most vulnerable amongst our friends and family.


Purslane has taught me that before I get upset and overwhelmed by something I should stop, take a moment to reflect on the problem, and look at it from a different perspective. What is it about a problem that really bothers me?


Why am I feeling overwhelmed by having to wear a mask, or stay away from family members, or not return to church? Is it that the mask is uncomfortable? Is it that I do not like being told what to do? I think all too often we do not take time to prayerfully consider the root reason for our anger, fear, and resentment.


I invite you this month, as you confront the latest frustration, to spend time in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to help you identify the root causes of your feelings, and to see if there is a way to reframe how you feel about these frustrations. Ask God to help you identify the unseen benefits of your current situation, to discover if that weed in your garden might be a blessing in disguise.


May God richly bless you during this month, and always.


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