“He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12: 11-12
Some Sundays are the only day of the week when all the family can get together to complete a project, which is sometimes like pulling your sheep out of the pit. For example, when the garden has produced a large amount of food and it will take many hands to preserve the harvest lest you waste it. Or perhaps, this is the only day of the week when family can get together to help one another. How can we achieve such activities but still maintain the “joy proper to the Lord’s Day” (CCC, 2185)?
We recall the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2186, Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.
During the week, it can be difficult to meditate and reflect as one ought on the activities of necessity. For example, we are usually driven by the necessities of our large garden, harvesting, weeding, sewing seed, and preserving — aiding relatives with the butchering, tree trimming, and so on — sometimes too busy to listen and to learn what all the work is teaching. What do I mean by listening to what the work is teaching? Take this Scripture passage into consideration:
“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.” Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?” Job 12: 7-10 Harvesting Basil Leaves for Pesto
When we consider our work in the garden as “just our work and something to get over with,” then we are prone to miss out on what each labor has to teach — the patience in the sewing of seeds and the hope of what is to come. Does this not teach us that good things come to those who wait and to those who sow with care? — the labor of weeding and the reward of an orderly garden. Does this not teach us to keep weeding even the venial sins from our souls that we may enjoy an orderly soul that will be pleasing to God? Why not reflect upon the curse of Adam and Eve and that they were sent to till the earth and that they would have to weed it all the days of their lives? Do we think we should have better than them if we complain of weeding? What did God wish to teach our first parents when he cursed them to toil? What should we be learning from the same acts? So much to learn…yes! But, due to our own laziness of spirit, these lessons are usually missed in the business of everyday garden life.
On a Sunday, when we are not in a hurry to do many other things alongside gardening, we have the unique opportunity to stop and listen to those lessons. We have the opportunity to reflect and meditate upon those lessons and to teach them to our children in a spirit of joy and thankfulness. On a Sunday, when necessity calls us to work together as an entire family to preserve the harvest, we make a point of keeping the day holy by doing the following:
- Attend Sunday morning Mass.
- Feast ~ Eat a large breakfast together.
- Pray before preserving to thank God for the harvest and to ask His blessings on the day’s activities, that they especially be fruitful to our growth in holiness and thankfulness for His gifts.
- Begin preservation WITHOUT rushing. We keep a spirit of relaxation throughout the day. No hurry, just one thing at a time.
- Take time to sing and chat during preservation activities. Keep it joyful with song!
- Talk about the lessons we are learning from our work and about gratitude to God for all we have to preserve.
- Feast again ~ End the day as a family with a large supper and special dessert.
- Sing and dance after dark before time for bed. (Really! We do sing and dance!)
For further inspiration, I would like to end with some garden quotes. “The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the world.” — Vita Sackville-West “Earth laughs in flower.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”– Thomas Jefferson “Kiss of the sun for pardon. Song of the birds for mirth. You’re closer to God’s heart in a garden than any place else on earth.” — Dorothy Frances Gurney “When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, There is always the garden.”– Minnie Aumonier “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” — Henry David Thoreau “Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising than the planting of a seed in the blank earth and the result thereof.”–Julie Moir Messervy