SHE SITS, A FILTHY GARDENER, breathes deeply, takes it in: the bright orange cosmos blossoms bobbing gently with the wind, as if nodding their agreement that her work today has been worthwhile & right & good. 

Sturdy sunflowers stand tall, radiating affirmation, strength & peace, all the while faithfully drawing out residual toxins of agrichemicals made popular after the Second World War.

Slowly she lifts a Mason jar to her lips & drinks down a quarter-gallon of lightly sweet tea steeped in the sun's rays. 

She wipes her chin & mouth & brow with the inside of her sweat-soaked not-so-white t-shirt & sighs. 

Eyeing her dirt-caked jeans, hands, fingernails, she sits content, accepting the clinging grime that comes with the territory.

She notes the obstinate weeds, reads them their rights, warns them of their impending fiery judgment, yet lets them remain a while longer. Their day will come, and today's work is enough.

She contemplates how God who formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life, Himself took on dirt-fashioned flesh, was born into filth & sullied Himself with His own blood & sweat & tears in order to swallow death & redeem her filthy soul.

From the Mason jar again she sips as she takes in the loss of the Black Princes, feels the loss of the Cherokee Purples, mourns the loss of the Sun Sugar babies, overtaken by bugs & blight. She repents her own part in their demise & buries her expectation of endless tomato pies.

Surveying the opened spaces freshly renewed with compost, peat moss, & vermiculite, hope stirs. She smiles at the future & ponders her next planting, marveling at the opportunity to co-create with her Maker. 

There are so many metaphors in gardening, so many lessons season after season: how it is that living requires dying, that decomposition aids growth, that our own breathing out gives life for the plants to breathe in & vice versa.

But God's willingness to make HIMSELF A FILTHY GARDENER for the joy of the harvest set before Him, is today the one thought that overwhelms this filthy gardener. 

And she bows her head to affirm His work as worthwhile & right & very good and to tell Him, Thank You.

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