Solo Cup Gardens

My first garden was planted in a Solo Cup. My kindergarten teacher passed out plastic cups and marigold seeds, and then troweled mounds of dark earth into each of our “flower pots”. Tiny servings of water were added to our dirt to create what looked like mud to me. Finally, she instructed us to gently punch the marigold seed down into the dirt.

I took my Solo Cup garden home, carefully carrying the cup in my chubby fingers until I safely arrived and lodged it on the windowsill. Each morning I sprang from my bed to check its progress. I’d race from my bedroom to the kitchen, drag a chair to the counter and clamber up to peer into my cup. It always looked the same to me: brown, muddy dirt in a cup. Faithfully, I watered the soil. Loyally, I turned the cup so that all sides experienced equal exposure to the sun and the view from the window.

But each day, the inspection of my Solo Cup garden revealed nothing. Zip. I remember one morning I was particularly impatient. I scrambled up on the chair and peered over its edge. Brown dirt in a cup. Bother! I ran to get my mom and begged her to let me dig up that stupid seed so that I could see what it was doing down there in the dark. My mother wisely explained to me that I could certainly dig up the seed but that if I did, I would interrupt its growth and it then might not grow at all.

So much of life is like this Solo Cup garden. We fill a cup with our best provisions and punch in the seeds of our dreams and desires and then sit, waiting, staring at the brown dirt in a cup, wondering when something will grow from our efforts. Gardens of dreams for this season and the next.

For our marriage to be more meaningful. For our homes to reflect our values – and tastes. For our children to need us just a tiny bit less – so that we can breathe! We plant the seeds of our dearest dreams today…and wait for what the future will bring out of what looks like just brown dirt in a cup.

I supposed God must feel a bit like us as he waits for the seeds he’s planted in the soil of our days to sprout. But unlike us, he knows what flowers he has planted. He understands the right circumstances (sun, water, trial) that will help us grow. Where we see brown dirt in a cup in our own lives, he sees beneath the soil to what is developing in us. He provides a model of how to wait for growth to occur.

Despite my doubts, that seed in the mud eventually sprouted and stuck its head up and over the edge of its Solo Cup container. So it is with the seeds planted in our own lives and in the lives of our children. Seeds grow in the dirt, in the dark, over a long period of time. They demand patience, persistence and a tremendous amount of faith. Resist the urge to dig them up!

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