Seeking your Father
| Gardens Within Gardens
Midway through my second row of picking beans, stinging sweat courses over my forehead and pools in my eyes. My vision blurs. The late afternoon sun warms more than I appreciate. Muscles cramp; the back aches.
My thoughts turn toward my father, and his affinity for gardening.
I wonder how he became an avid gardener. His urban heritage doesn't suggest an inclination for tilling the soil. I don't believe he ever had a garden in his youth. His career path - naval aviator turned surgeon- intimates little hint of cultivation lust. But garden my father did when we moved to Maine.
My oldest brother believes that Dad sought solace in his garden. Here, Bob surmises, Dad felt he held greater control than he might while operating. Surgery was not always perfect, outcomes not always predictable. In his garden, however, Dad orchestrated the tilling, the planting, and the production of vegetables. In his garden, Dad was the maestro.
I contend, however, that explanation is a bit short of the mark.
In his garden, I suggest, Dad communed with God.
Just as in his surgery, my father understood gardening as an occasion to work in God's garden, hand in hand with our Maker. In tilling the soil he opened his soul to God's refuge. While plucking sharp rocks from the earth (as prevalent in Maine as red clay in Alabama), he thanked God for his surgical skills. Planting peas, he glorified the Father for his miracles. Witnessing the first sprouts, Dad lifted up the blessing of his four sons. Between the leafy green mosaic, Dad offered seeds in seeking guidance, and harvested fruit as God's counsel.
Aside from Dad's lifelong love, my Mother, few knew my father well. I certainly did not. He was the distant, omnipotent 'head of the household. Admittedly, I seldom sought him. Though he provided us a safe, secure home, the four boys more often avoided him for fear of an upbraiding (or haircut).
However, when I needed something, be it an advance on my allowance, understanding for a transgression, or simple advice, I knew where I must look. Steeling my nerve, I searched Dad between the rows.
He would welcome me with a hoe or some other implement. Patiently, he would explain the mysteries, dramas, and miracles, which transpired within. I would relax to his teaching, and join in his labors. Lulled off-guard, I would comfortably settle to the task at hand. Only than would Dad ask, "Dan, Why have you come?"
He always knew I came out of need. He wanted me to come. He patiently waited for all his sons to come.
I pick another bean pod. Sweat darkens the dusty soil beneath, down close to the bean plant's thick stem. Beyond my garden's gate, my daughter's voice beckons, "Daddy?"
Her call, a pebble dropped in placid waters, pierces the tranquility, and ripples through my reflections. I look up, searching for my girl, and smile. A tear drowns the sweat, and races down my cheek.
"I'm here, Cassidy."