Sunday, July 24

Planting Seeds

My aunt posted a photo on Facebook about her emotions watching her son prepare to leave for college.

And I feel torn.

I'm grateful for the rare glimpse into someone else's life. For the emotional connection it gives me.

I still feel torn.

The post was short, brimming with emotion, full of untold stories. It hinted at an incredible depth of relationship and the  mixture of pride, joy, pain, and grief that my aunt feels from watching her son grow and now move to another stage of life.

It made me look at my life - at my job, my calling, my recreation, my blog. And painted in letters bright enough that even I can see it, is a pattern repeated over and over and over again.

At The Soap Factory, my passion is trying to find ways to teach people new things. To open their hearts to new experiences and push them into new territory. It works - I have amazing opportunities to teach about Jesus Christ, to share stories about health (and sometimes soap), and to give advice on every topic under the sun.

In my calling, I greet people who are new to my ward and try to quickly make them feel at home. In a community where there's a huge amount of turnover, and in a ward with boundaries that sometimes feel enormous, my role is helping people instantly be at ease... so that they won't just disappear or hop to another ward the next week. I'm not as good as this one, and I probably won't usually end up being a great friend in the long run, but at least I can tell who's new and who is visiting. And if I'm the only person to shake someone's hand each week, maybe know their name, and share an honest smile, at least one person touched them.

Here at (G)MG I write about my life and then send it into the unknown. People from all over the world read (G)MG - from Malaysia to Africa. I try to accurately capture all the things that happen to me, dig down deeply into my own soul, encapsulate what God is teaching me, and then just push "Publish."

The story repeats itself throughout my life. I find ways to touch people and their lives - to cut through the bulk of social barriers and get close enough to break through and make a difference, sometimes where it's been hard to make a difference before. Even my little sister tells me that every time she's with me, she learns something new.

But it comes with a major caveat.

In most cases, those instant relationships don't last very long. Rarely do they develop into something else.

There are a few major exceptions. My current best friend has somehow survived the chaos of my life and is still here. I'm getting closer to my family as well. There are a few people in my ward that I could and should probably call friends. And there are others.

But, for the vast majority of people I meet, I feel like my social world is the same one where I garden.

I love gardening. I dream of being able to grow beautiful, awesome, unique things that change the world. I wanted to go into horticulture when I was little. Today, I buy heirloom seeds, organic soil, and do everything right. The seeds are planted at just the right depth. Within a few weeks, all sprout and grow beautifully. They get sunshine, just the right amount of water, and an enormous amount of love.

Everything seems right. Even the hardest seeds can sprout with love, patience, and work - from ancient tomatoes to rare Italian Cedro.

And then the hundreds of healthy sprouts just stop growing - completely and totally stop. There are thousands of different reasons why, but by the time I figure out which one it was this time, everything is dead. The garden at my shop had to be moved to the roof because of an infestation of fungus gnats that didn't respond to every possible intervention. When I moved to my current home, I replaced all the soil in my flowerbeds because it was too alkaline, then the next year removed the even more toxic soil I had just laid down (it was literally floating on a thin layer of muck). I stopped composting because the walnut leaves that fell from my trees would just kill everything. And, just recently, we removed the garden completely... and filled it in with lawn.

I am awesome at starting things, at planting seeds.

I can make anything sprout - from the hardest seeds to the most closed hearts and minds.

But only once in a thousand tries do I even dream of being the one to see fruit - like the emotional depth my aunt wrote about with her son.


But that's my role, right? Someone prepares the soil, someone plants seeds, someone nurtures them, and someone gathers fruit. I plant seeds. From my blog - which allows me to scatter my thoughts across the globe - to my shop - which allows me to break through and learn about people's needs - my life is all about planting seeds.

And that's ok. Where I plant seeds (and can't get them to grow), someone else can nurture plants but doesn't have the tools to get them started. I have my own place on the pathway to Salvation - and I was given talents to do my part. Today is Pioneer Day here in Utah - a celebration of people whose lives were dedicated to planting real seeds, along with those of faith, work, foundations, and society.

Maybe that's where I've gone wrong in gardening. I think that next year I'll start seeds for gardens... and then give them away to people who can make them thrive.

And, if I'm lucky, maybe they'll share fruit with me.

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