Posts tagged ‘effective speaking’

May 27, 2011

The Language of Gardens – by Karyn B. Alexander

“Be a fruitful garden” is the claim I want to make this week in my column, Voices of the Nation.

What you plant will surely grow. In fact, I might be a very fruitful garden.

The old saying, “What you sow you will reap,” is a definite truth.

The spring rains are finally here and I am considering what to grow on my farm and in my garden. I ordered scores of trees to screen the strong winds from my house. I want to plant fruit and nut trees along the drive as well.

I started a small vineyard last year, and will continue to add to it. I love the idea of being self-sufficient, not depending on society to provide for my family. I am gainfully embracing the thought of becoming a real farmer-gardener this year.

Last year’s attempt to farm was pretty funny. My land is mostly forest, with a portion of fields of hay not prepared for crops. I had a farmer friend plow a small area for a vineyard last year. I bought and mixed just the right fertilizer to ready the land for my vines. I asked the county environmental worker to come and take a soil sample to make sure I added all the right fertilizers in just the right order.

We spent the better part of a day, hauling rocks from the site and watching the farmer till the land. He had to go over it several times to break up the packed and unused dirt. It was very exciting and I took a lot of pictures of him on his tractor, of my dogs jumping into the freshly plowed dirt, and of myself wearing my straw hat.

As the tractor left, I was on my own to plant and care for the vineyard. I don’t know if I had been that excited in a long time. I put each plant in with care, watering and patting them into place.

After finishing, I took a shower, made a country dinner, and felt as though I ruled the world. I even shared a glass of champagne with my daughter that night. It was a true celebration.

Over the next few mornings, I was surprised that even though I watered and tended my vineyard, birds, animals and even insects had arrived to ruin my utopia.

What was I to do? Each morning, I woke up to plants missing, some uprooted, and even lifeless wilted sticks that had not rooted.

Earlier, I said it was “funny,” but not really; it was just an unexpected failure. I had tried so hard. The summer brought such a drought that I finally pulled all my vines and put the survivors in pots. They are now in my hallway awaiting another go-of-it for this spring.

As I thought about my failed attempt at farming, I likened the process of plowing, planting, tending and failure, to some of our patterns of communication.

Being an observer of relationships, I find that reaping and sowing is surely not just for gardens.

I know we all try our best to provide fertile ground for words we convey, but sometimes the birds of anger or resentment fill our sentences. We sometimes plant ideas or suggestions with others, either tending or not tending to our tone, cadence, and volume. We often allow weeds to come and choke the healthy meaning out of our words, and we do not nurture or even notice the environment that we provide for the most precious plants we own: our loved ones.

This spring I am going to try harder with my garden. My vegetables and fruits will be guarded from pests and insects, while my words and actions will be nurturing and fertile.

I will work hard to provide a healthy environment for much fruit to grow, both real and relational.

What is that nursery rhyme?

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”  I say, “With tender loving care.” This year I will bear much fruit.

Be a fruitful garden!


Karyn Alexander

Executive Director, Winfield House

Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, bringing hope to God’s people.

Voice of the Nations, Rev.5:19, “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, language, and nation.”