faith, the other kind

I have faith. I am, in fact, an elder in the local Presbyterian church. But that’s not the type of faith I’m writing about today.

A few weeks ago, I received a small box in the post. It isn’t that unusual that I receive such boxes, but I was curious to open it to find what I’d ordered this time. I slit the tape sealing the box and opened the flaps, expecting music CDs, perhaps movie DVDs, because the box proportions suggested those treasures might be inside!

I cleared the packing away, and looked down in shock. Horror? Instead of something lovely, like a new J.S. Bach CD, the treasure turned out to be… three shrunken, black, organic somethings, the nature of which I could not guess. Then I found the packing slip under the black, mummified remains. Rhubarb! I’d forgotten I’d ordered rhubarb last fall, and these three scary things were it!

I have a rare form of vasculitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis) that nearly killed my body five years ago, but rekindled my faith, the first kind. Since then, the path to recovery left me less able to do gardening at first, though the strength needed (and a move from a house to an apartment, where the garden is much smaller) has returned mostly. I can do such things as plant tomatoes, if I wish, or lots of flowers (which I always have around me), or dried out, mummified rhubarb starts.

That’s where the other kind of faith comes in. To look at the starts, I would guess the best place for them would be the compost heap, if I had one, or the trash. Yet I have received such unpromising “bare root” packages before that turned into magnificent roses, lavender, grapes that were ambrosia and nectar in one, right off the vine! “I dunno,” I thought, because the “bare root” rhubarb starts looked, umm, unpromising!

I put the rhubarb starts in a plastic tub I’d filled to the top with water. “Over night” is the usual time you soak “bare root” starts, but I couldn’t imagine a week of soaking doing much to revive these specimens! I checked the next morning, decided to soak them 24 more hours. At the end of 24 hours, I checked for: 1. any sign of life, and, 2. any indication of which end was up because the starts, in the mummified state, didn’t give many clues. Both questions answered, at last! One end showed growth that suggested the top to me, even if the little shoots almost looked like roots.

Maybe another night’s soak would sort out the ambiguity….Which it did! The rooty-looking sprouts turned out to be the start of stalks. That’s all I need to plant the starts, which I did this morning after preparing the ground with lots of organic matter and rich, loamy garden soil, the way rhubarb likes it.

I told you this was about faith. It is! Gardening is an act of faith, a belief that working the soil to create a perfect environment for the flowers, fruits, and vegetables you like and want to grow will result in a harvest- in time, the Lord willing, and if you have faith, the other kind!

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