In the past few years, both of my young adult children have become fond of gardening. They’re learning what grows in their area, how to time their planting, and when to harvest their produce. They text photos of the plants in various stages of development, and of yummy meals they create with what they grow. I sense their satisfaction in nurturing tiny seeds into flourishing plants, and their disappointment when a spring snow or hailstorm takes out some of their fledgling crops. To be honest, there is also a part of me that wishes I could join them in their gardening endeavors. But that is not my gift — I’m not sure what color my thumb is but it is definitely not green!
God has given each of us particular gifts, which we are called to steward well. And none of us has exactly the same gifts that our parents, siblings, or neighbors has. It is a sign of the incredible magnificence of God that different though we are, we are all called to reflect the beauty, truth, and goodness of God.
There is more to the lesson of the gardener for me, however. Each plant in the garden requires a certain sort of care, amount of nutrients, sunlight, water and pruning. A carrot cannot be tended in the same way as a zucchini if the gardener wants both to blossom and yield abundantly. Likewise, each of us must nurture the gifts which have been entrusted to us distinctly — the way I am mindful of and use my talents will necessarily be different than the way you do yours, because you and I are not exactly like each other.
In Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, the U.S. Bishops invite us to reflect on the garden more deeply: “Genesis, telling the story of creation, says God looked upon what had been made and found it good; and seeing the world’s goodness, God entrusted it to human beings. “The Lord God planted a garden” and placed there human persons “to cultivate and care for it” (Gn 2:8, 15). Now, as then and always, it is a central part of the human vocation that we be good stewards of what we have received—this garden, this divine human work-shop, this world and all that is in it—setting minds and hearts and hands to the task of creating and redeeming in cooperation with our God, Creator and Lord of all.” (SDR, p. 41)
How are you a good steward of the garden that has been entrusted to you to tend?