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Not Just the Scraps

Recently my school has begun installing some small raised planters so that students can learn about agriculture and the life cycle of plants in a hands-on way. We also have now some tiered garden areas where we hope to grow a variety of vegetables during the year. Fortunately, we have several folks with green thumbs on the project, so it should be a successful endeavor as long as I only admire these plants.

I did enjoy listening in on a lesson where the teacher was talking about how plants could come from things other than seeds. She discussed cuttings from plants. She discussed spores from things like mosses and ferns. She also talked about how some vegetables reproduce from scraps. She mentioned onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, shallots, cabbages, lettuce, bok choi and potatoes – both Idaho and sweet potatoes.

I did get a chuckle when she had to explain that those scraps could not have been cooked if you wanted them to be planted! I think some of our students were hoping to recycle their vegetables from their dinner plate instead of eating them.

The discussion reminded me of a story told by the late Dr. Douglas Steere in his book On Beginning From Within. A devout Quaker Christian, Dr. Steere received his PHD from Harvard and was also a Rhodes Scholar. While he served in academia as a professor at several institutions, he served the world as both a humanitarian who worked to alleviate human suffering and as an advocate for justice and peace.

He was also known to be able to take the common occurrence and use it to help explain the profound, which is I guess why the story I am about to share has stuck with me.

Steere once told of a potato farmer he knew in Michigan. (Steere’s bachelors was in Agriculture from Michigan Agricultural College.)

Anyway, this particular farmer was extremely frugal. He was so tight that he planted only the peelings of the potatoes for seed. He fed the insides to his stock. It worked fine in years when there was plenty of moisture. But when the rains were slow in coming, he nearly always lost his crop. In the times of drought, only the farmers who planted whole potatoes were likely to get a crop.

Steere noted that in our lives, it is only when we “plant” the whole of our lives, not just “life’s peelings,” that we will reap a bountiful harvest. He quoted a line from the Spanish philosopher Miguel Unamuno: “Sow yourselves, sow the living part of yourselves, in the furrows of life.”

Scripture is full of calls to be “all in” for God.

Deuteronomy 6:5 says – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Notice it says all, not just some or a part.

Jesus repeats these very words while adding they also apply to your neighbor in Mark 12.

Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus also reminds us that we should not turn back in our planting but instead our commitment to God must be complete. As Jesus said in Luke’s Gospel Chapter 9 verse 62, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Friends, I pray we do more than give God just a little bit or some of the scraps, but that we sow our whole lives for the glory of the Kingdom of God.

In the name of God our creator, redeemer and sustainer – Alleluia, Amen.


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