These are some of the tomatoes from my garden. I use the term "garden" loosely as I only have flowers and shrubs around my house, but since Dean loves fresh tomatoes, this spring I put 6 tomato plants in the bald parts of my flowerbeds - those spaces that always gape between plants when a garden is still young. The tomatoes have basically taken over the west side of my house. The plants became so large that they toppled all the supports I put up. They overshadowed my waist-high burning bushes and drowned out the yellow stella d'oras. The large, grapefruit sized fruit is ripening faster than we can eat it, and despite giving many away and making a large batch of salsa (best ever, by the way), there are still 11 tomatoes on my counter today and I am sure a few more have ripened since yesterday.
Fruit is a funny thing - it is seasonal. Sometimes I wish that it would be more spread out, or on a timed release schedule. That way one could enjoy tomatoes all year round, one produced every day of the year for 365 days, instead of scrambling to eat or use it all in the short space of a few weeks. That would seem more balanced, wouldn't it? Something I read this week (sorry, I forgot where) talked about rhythm vs. balance.
It seems wise to balance out our lives, to keep things from getting too extreme in any direction, to have a consistent flow of all the areas of our life, but this author said that upon observation, one can see that God works much more in rhythms. There is a season of planting and all you seem to do is give and give and give and give. There is no relief from the giving. And when you are spent, you stop. Then there is a time when nothing seems to happen and you watch and wait and watch and wait and pray and pray and day after day nothing changes. And when you finally give up hope, you begin to see a change. But NOOO it is not the wonderful reward you had hoped for, it is a mixture of all kinds of things, good and bad, sprouting up all over the place and you are confused and don't know if you can properly separate the right from the wrong because it is all immature and you don't know which to concentrate your efforts on - encouraging growth or chopping off the bad stuff. So you try leaving it all but after you see the overgrown mess, you know you have to do something. So you pull out the bad stuff (at least the stuff you can identify) but every time you look, there just seems to be a fresh crop of it, the never ending weeds and time-wasters.
Just when you had given up hope of anything good ever being able to survive, the fruit starts to appear. The initial excitement quickly gives way to wails of "What do I do with it?" as it just keeps ripening and growing and producing and you can't keep up with the rate at which it matures and falls to the ground and you don't like to see it rot but what are you supposed to do? You work and work and work and gather and gather and try to enjoy as much as you can and find a place to put it all and hopefully save some for future use and then suddenly, it all stops. The plant begins to brown and sag and you wonder what happened? What did you do wrong? Why have things just stopped flourishing? Where is the bumper crop, the incredible growth and reproduction? You try to prop up the last few green leaves but all to no avail. The life just seems to have gone out of it. So you sit and stare and watch as your robust and vibrant plant just withers in front of your eyes and lays brown on the ground. It is enough to make you cry.
And then come the months and months of absolutely nothing except bare ground and cold wind and the bittersweet memories of juicy smiles and stuffing yourselves with the abundance and thinking it would never end. And now, the winter seems to be the only hard reality of endlessness. You can't even SEE the ground much less plow it or plant anything or even think about fruit. Frozen. Lifeless. Cold. And then one day, you hear little drops - the snow is melting off the roof. There is hope.
Let me be an astute follower of the rhythms of God instead of one who fights against them.