I’ve been a city-dwelling gardener all my life. I’ve worked on overgrown lots that hid a multitude of sins, to old suburban back-yards with compacted patchy lawns. When I would begin to transform a landscape I would be unsure of what would be unearthed; one year I dug up a lawn chair. Gardening was done gingerly and with gloves, and tetanus shots kept up to date.
A plant that I had grown in every yard was potatoes. I love potatoes. When I lived with my grandmother we ate them almost daily. Then I discovered, in my twenties, that I could grow them…and did. As with any vegetable, there is no comparing the flavor of home-grown produce to what is bought at the grocery store.
In early spring I would find a well drained area in the yard and prepare the city-lot for potatoes—and a vegetable patch, too. This meant not only turning the soil but sifting it for debris and glass. Once the patch was readied, the potato-sets were planted. During the weeks that followed they were mounded, mulched, and watered. Late summer, after the plants flowered and stems started to wilt, harvesting began. I am always surprised and delighted when digging potatoes. With vegetables that grow above ground, the anticipation is quelled by watching flowers swell into fruits. With potatoes, all is hidden.
I wasn’t one to dig potatoes using a spading fork; I found I did more harm to the tubers by using it. With only a few hills to harvest, and the mounded soil being soft, my hands worked best. There was always something a little exciting about blindly plunging bare hands into warm soil and bumping into potatoes. Wiggling fingers underneath the tubers, I would pop them up and out of the mound.
But the plunging bare hands at times would meet with peril. Pushing fingers into the soil, there is that split second when I’d realize that the pressure pushing back wasn’t a potato, and I couldn’t stop the forward motion quick enough. Then it was too late, I’d just been cut by glass. Wounded, I withdrew, dismayed but not surprised—its one of the risks of gardening in an area that was used for trash. No matter how careful I was at preparing the soil, every once in a while something nasty would work its way up and out of the depths.
A similar thing happened the other day when a sin worked its way out. There was that split second when I knew my soul was about to be wounded by a lie…but it was too late, I couldn’t stop the words. The result was calumnity—I had planted seeds of doubt in the heart of another.
And for what? To feel more important? To appear more knowledgeable? To be liked and feel part of a group? My soul is worth more than that. Worth more than a two minute sound bite, or the bitter unspoken words in my heart, or that drink from the drive-through window that wasn’t really mine and wasn’t really free.
Little shards of glass hidden in the depths nick and wound my soul. It is one of the perils of trying to harvest truth in a world of broken pieces.