My friend Robynn wrote this post for me, since my husband wasn’t here to write it : )

For some gardening is a labor of love; for others it’s a nightmare.  And understandably so on both counts.  What could give one more satisfaction than gathering one’s family around a table adorned with fresh cut flowers from the garden for a homecooked meal of homegrown food that took months cultivate, and that everyone thinks is delicious!? 

On the other hand, who wants to spend at least an hour or so every day slaving away under the hot sun, in the dead of summer, pulling weeds, staking up tomatoes, picking bugs and worms off vines, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and waiting for flowers to bloom and fruits and vegetables to ripen, hoping all the while that they’ll be good enough to have been worth so much trouble?

There was a time, however, and not too long ago, when raising one’s own crops was a way of life and absolutely necessary for survival.  Just think of the pioneers; or the peasants in a medieval village.  If you didn’t work you didn’t eat.  And individuals seemed to appreciate what they had so much more than we do nowadays.

The reality is that gardening provides much more than just decorations for the home or sustenance.  We find in gardening a spiritual exercise which, through it’s inherent cooperation with the Divine, cultivates in our souls—our spiritual gardens—countless virtues, but particularly the four theological virtues of Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance and Justice.

It’s a tricky business knowing just when to plant.  Prudence dictates that we draw from our own experience as well as that of others, research past years’ weather patterns, and call on a little help from God ("Please let this be the last frost!") in order to save ourselves a lot of time and money, both of which most of us have precious little to spare. 

It is certainly none other than the virtue of fortitude that pushes us through the unpleasantly hot days of summer, to every day tend to the creation God is unfolding before our eyes, working as good stewards of the Earth to bring it to its full potential.

Temperance is what keeps us from plucking the fruits of our long labors before their time—or over watering or fertilizing in the hopes that we can enjoy the fruits sooner than God has ordained.

Justice, that tedious virtue parents are called upon every day to administer is perfectly realized at that blessed moment when the "nightmare" transforms into the labor of love and at last one may share and enjoy the fruits of one’s labors.  The better you practiced the other three virtues, the greater your reward.  The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.  How true this is of our relationship with God, as well.  Which brings me to my final point.

One cannot ignore the intimate partnership that exists between gardener and God, without whose provision through His mistress, Nature, no amount of hard work on the part of the gardener will produce.  But when God and Man cooperate, it takes only a few months to enjoy the reward of that tiny glimpse into the Garden of Eden, exploding with the abundance of God’s creation—birds, flowers, berries, veggies—all that is good for man’s body—the evidence of the good that has been worked in his soul.

Check out Joy In The Morning to read how Loni practiced fortitude (and enjoyed it!) through the hot, hot Michigan summer.

Uncover the mystery of generosity of fruits from labors past, summoned by no more than the will of God, at Sarah’s Plainsong

Learn to appreciate "company" in your garden the way Dawn does By Sun and Candlelight.

See just how well one family and God cooperated this summer In The Shade of The Old Oaks!

See what God has done in Theresa’s garden while she was away for two months. : )

And behold my Husband’s pride of the garden this year at Just Another Day In Paradise.

If you’re now wishing you’d planted this year, it’s not too late!  There’s a whole list out there of seeds you can plant now!

Or you can always read The Carrot Seed, Miss Rumphius, or Jack and the Bean Stalk if you’re more into vicarious gardening!

Finally, a toast to all our children, the prettiest flowers of them all!