A Forty Dollar Tomato


One of the rewards of gardening is growing and eating your own food. There are few things that can compare with sitting down at the table and knowing that the peppers garnishing the peas and the slices of tomatoes alongside the bowl of spinach all were planted, nurtured and harvested out of the garden in the back yard. Of course my two little plots do not have much room for little else than tomatoes, peppers and a few varieties of herbs. Still, there are few things better tasting than a homegrown tomato. Can I get an amen?!

I figured my tomatoes averaged about forty dollars apiece, which does not include my labor in planting, staking, tending, watering, fertilizing and chasing away pests like hornworms, squirrels and other varmints. I certainly did not garden to save money. A church member reminded me that it was still cheaper than paying a therapist, which I concede is a good point.

I have had some nice surprises during this otherwise abysmal harvest season. Early in the summer I noticed a couple of vines growing volunteer (meaning I did not plant them but they came up compliments of last year’s compost). At first I thought the vines were cucumbers, but as the blooms gave way to fruit they looked gourds. Finally the shape was unmistakably that of cantaloupe. While my tomatoes ran forty dollars apiece, I have four cantaloupes for free. This is not quite a wash, but I will take it.

By next spring I will get over my failures in “the back forty” and plant again. In fact soon I will replace the summer crop with a winter one – collards and cabbage. Gardening is something one must do not merely for the end result – the harvest – but the journey or the process. There are other comparisons in life: we parent knowing there is really never a time we are finished (even though we may feel like giving up); one goes to work each day hopefully not just because retirement will come, but the satisfaction of doing a job that contributes to society if not creative; and following Jesus is not simply about getting to heaven, but believing the path here on earth will be fulfilling too.

Why do you follow the Carpenter? Is it for the end results of eternal rewards or for the assurance of immediate gratifications like protection, peace, and a better parking place? There are many reasons – explicit and implicit – that Christians give for following Jesus. Perhaps there is none better than simply trusting that the journey is its own reward. In all of our bumps, bruises, disappointments, surprises and joys along the way, God is faithful. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Sometimes in life you go looking for tomatoes and in up finding cantaloupe, and life is good.

Peace be with you,

1 Comment

  1. That end quote sounds like something Charles Schulz would write! Love this post, and love you too – will come to visit again soon!

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