“Every season is one of becoming, but not always one of blooming. Be gracious with your ever-evolving self.”— B. Oakman
This past May, John, my husband, and I were given nine tomato seedlings that our neighbor, Dianna, had started. John purchased special potting soil, and I carefully planted those seedlings into large gardening containers. They were my pet project this summer as I tended to them like a mother tends to a baby. From suckering them to fertilizing them at specific points in the summer to monitoring the moisture in the soil to determine if I should water or not, I tried to be the best plant parent I could be. However, I knew that in spite of my best efforts, Mother Nature had more control than me.
Nonetheless, John and I ooed and awed over the plants’ first golden blooms. We gleefully counted the tiny green orbs that first formed in place of the blossoms, and we celebrated as they grew bigger, and more petite tomatoes began to emerge. As their color gradually transformed from chartreuse to a yellow-orange, and then gently evolved from an orange-red to scarlett, our anticipation mounted for a plentiful harvest, to the degree nine-plants could produce.
By the first week of August, we had a bounty of tomatoes. None of them were particularly large, but they were bursting with flavor–the perfect tangy blend of sweet, tart, and acid. With our first pickings, I cut-up fresh cucumber and tomato to add to shawarma-spiced chickpeas for me, and made bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches on homemade bread for John. Throughout the week, there were salad plates topped with aromatic, zesty tomatoes alongside dinner, and veggie sticks and tomatoes in bowls for packed lunch. Oh, the ways we can, and do, enjoy tomatoes!
Last weekend, I was out picking more tomatoes, and I reflected on a conversation with my dad the previous week. He lives in Melbourne, FL, about an hour or so, east of Orlando. He and my bonus mom, Pam, have a fenced-in backyard that they have transformed into a tropical paradise. Vibrantly filled with plants that would never grow here locally, thrive in their backyard as they continue to learn more about the growing seasons of Florida.
In that recent phone conversation, Dad and I discussed the plants they were currently trying to grow, and the ones they would soon plant, once the temperatures cooled and moderated. One plant he was eagerly anticipating growing were tomatoes. He explained his plan to plant a couple of seedlings, then several weeks later, plant a couple more, then he’d plant another a few about a month after that, and so on. Apparently, unlike here, fall is the perfect time to plant tomatoes, and throughout the winter months, he gets to reap the harvest.
Therefore, when I shared with him how well my tomato plants were producing, he bemoaned the fact he could not yet have a fresh garden tomato, but of course, encouraged John and me to enjoy our season while we could. Nonetheless, he was looking forward to the season when he, too, could enjoy a fresh slicer tomato on a sandwich or chopped up in a salad. We talked some more about his different growing season, and the types of tomatoes he planned to try to grow this upcoming year before moving on to other topics at hand.
As I reflected on this conversation while picking tomatoes, with each snip of my pruning shears, I was simultaneously filled with gratitude for each tender fruit, but I was also feeling a bit of sadness for the fact that I could not share these with Dad. Then, I reminded myself that he would be enjoying tomatoes, most likely in December, January, and February when our area will be chilling to rain, sleet, ice, and snow with not a single fresh tomato in sight. That’s when it hit me.
In the same way I can gather tomatoes in August and September, but Dad cannot until the winter months, we all have different growing seasons in life. I began to think about all the ways in which we, as part of our humanity, often compare our current position in life with that of others in similar circumstances, age-range, or whatnot, and feel as if our situation/status falls short in comparison. Personally, I often think of dreams and hopes I still hold for the future, but due to life, many of those notions must be put on-hold for the time-being. However, the more I snipped tomatoes, the more I began to realize that perhaps instead of comparing, and thinking about where/what I think I should be doing, maybe I would be better benefitted to switch my focus to cultivating and nurturing those seeds of hope, and recognize that it’s not their growing season . . .yet.
“Be aware of what season you are in and give yourself the grace to be there.”--Kristen Dalton
Just as it is the growing season for me in southern Ohio, but not for my Dad in central Florida, the same is true for life. Our lives are filled with seasons too. There are times when we must let go of notions and things that no longer serve us, like the trees do in fall, and the winds change the color of our lives with a flourish. Other times, our lives are filled with great spaces of dormancy as harsh and bitter winds send us into a blanket of darkness. Then, there are those moments in which we experience blooms of hope, sometimes even in the midst of a rainy season. That is when the magic can occur.
Through our letting gos and goodbyes, through those dark and latent times, and even through downpours of sorrows and grief, there remain within each of us, planted seeds of possibility and potentiality. Those seeds have their own growing seasons, but each person has different seasons and different times for harvesting. It is our job to be aware of our season, cultivate our inner seeds, and trust that when the time is right, new growth will occur.
As it is wisely stated in the book of Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . . .He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Therefore, we must put our faith in our Creator, and rest in knowing that our hopes and dreams are indeed being cultivated by a force greater than us; and when the season is right, our season for growth, and ultimately harvest, will one day come into fruition.