One of the great regrets in my life is that I was unable to spend more time with my grandfather during the years that I desired to learn from him. Growing up we would spend at least one weekend a month with my mom’s parents. During those visits I was more interested in playing with cousins rather than playing with my Pepa in his garden. I was more interested in exploring the creek bed behind the garden, picking the plums off the tree and playing with the rabbits than to learn the secrets of growing, cultivating and preserving. He would try to throw out nuggets to see if I would indulge, but most of the time my I was simply too caught up in my own fleeting thoughts. Had I known my time with him was limited, I would have indulged on those nuggets he threw. Had I known that my adult years would be spent living 6-11hours away, I would have feasted on those nuggets as if they were my last meal.
Pepa was what I would consider a master gardener. It seemed that everything he touched sprouted, then blossomed to produce life giving fruit and seed. His flowers were gorgeous, his garden was always abundant and his pantry overflowing with with row after row of bright colored jars, displaying his hard work. I watched on numerous occasions as someone would bring him a seemingly lifeless piece of vegetation and he would not only bring the plant back from it’s near death experience, but he would miraculously take it beyond it’s previous glory. He inherently knew that buried deep within the lifeless exterior there was still hope of a future glory. Being a master gardener, I believe he saw that hope in me. It is what drove him to continually plant seeds and offer nuggets to me. Perhaps if I had chewed the nuggets earlier I too could have been a master.
It has been more than fifteen years since my grandfather transitioned from tending his half acre garden on earth to spending his days with the ultimate gardener in the ultimate, heavenly garden. After so many years, many of the seeds he cultivated are still bearing fruit. Every year my mother plants and harvests a special type of tomato he grew, and the perennial plants and flowering bulbs he grew still make their presence known around her home. Every year on Father’s Day the gladiolas he planted by her back porch bloom to remind her he is still very near.
Several years ago the seeds he planted in me began to sprout as well. The desire to grow things, plant a garden, harvest the fruit and preserve my harvest exploded in me. This year I asked an experienced gardener to teach me, from plowing to planting, what to do. I knew about harvesting, it was the preparation I knew very little about. He patiently taught me me how to plow the rows, what to plant, where and when to plant and when to harvest. They are lessons I will forever be grateful for. Our little garden this year produced an overabundance of squash and zucchini. On three separate trips to the garden I came home with a five gallon bucket of the yellow and green vegetables. Then the reality set in that there was no way we could eat all those veggies before they spoiled. I bought a Canning and Preserving for Dummies book (yes that is literally the title) and set about discovering the art of preservation. Only now do I fully appreciate all that my grandfather had stored up inside of him.
Preservation means to keep alive or in existence; make lasting. My desire to make the vegetables I gathered last, led me to a deeper discovery. My Pepa desired to preserve his knowledge of growing, cultivating, harvesting and preservation inside of me. Passing on his knowledge insured that his family would be kept alive. The seeds he planted and nuggets he tossed have grown and been digested. While reading my preservation for dummies book, the long forgotten lessons were resurrected; much like the plants he rescued and brought back to life. I only wish I had realized the importance of preservation while he was alive. Now that I fully understand, I will do everything I can to plant the seeds of knowledge and pass on a heritage to insure the existence of my family.
I encourage you today to continue to plant. Continue to toss nuggets of truth out to your children or loved ones. Continue to teach them through repetition, remain steady in your faith. Don’t be swayed by the quick fix methods of the fast paced world we live in. Preservation is about so much more than food. Preservation is essential to who we are and what we become. If we take each step with care, prayerfully passing on the knowledge of who we are and how God sees us, then we will insure the future glory of our children and loved ones. Our family and friends may not appreciate all that we try to toss them today, but the Bible declares that there is seed time and harvest in all we sow. Keep sowing, get ready to harvest and daily preserve all that has been planted in you.