Faith in Waipa
By Christine Bryant
Lay Minister, St John’s Anglican Church
High summer – the time of the year gardeners look forward to. At least this is true for those lucky enough to live in the sunny, fertile Waikato!
Those seeds, nurtured in September, became little seedlings which were planted out around Labour Weekend. Hours of careful weeding and watering have followed. At last, tomatoes which have been green on the vine for the last four weeks suddenly turn red. Within days there is a glut of tomatoes. Zucchini, with their huge yellow flowers, appear as if by magic every morning. If you don’t pick them for a couple of days, they become marrows. Oh well, our two heifers love to be hand-fed slices of zucchini. Sweet corn with its pale yellow silk, starts to go brown. Yum! – mouth-watering corn cobs on the BBQ.
And so it goes on: peas, beans, capsicum, aubergine, lettuce, radish, cucumber, not to mention the ripening pumpkins and butternut. Then there are the fruit trees, beautiful pink blossoms in spring have turned into red plums, golden peaches and crisp apples.
If you have gardened in the Waikato all your life, you may take this bounty for granted, moaning about kilos of plums to be dealt with. However, if you have tried to garden for 40 years in the teeth of a Wellington nor’wester, you give thanks for every small cherry tomato which makes it to ripe enough to eat.
A garden rewards you amply if you give it some care and attention. I am new enough to Te Awamutu to be amazed every summer at the prolific harvest from our garden and orchard which, six years ago, was paddock. Of course, working the land doesn’t always go according to plan. We can all feel desperately sorry for those orchardists who have lost their entire crop due to unseasonable heavy rain and hail.
Aside from enjoying the harvest yourself, I believe there are two further key blessings to be gained. Firstly, a garden is to be enjoyed. What is more pleasurable in the summer than sharing a meal and conversation al fresco in the shade of a beautiful tree. Secondly, it is a real blessing to be able to give away the surplus. Those without space to grow fruit and veges always appreciate the fruits of our labours. Jesus accepted a drink of water from the Samaritan woman at the well and took the time to find out about her and her situation (John 4). Another time (Matthew 26), he said: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink … Whatever you did for the least of people, you did for me.”
2020 is over, but the crisis of Covid will be with us for most of this year. In a time when many are unable to be with family and friends who live overseas, when many women find their jobs at risk, when livelihoods are still precarious, one of the best things we can do for our community is to live into these words of Jesus and share the bounty of our gardens.