it’s never too late to plant seeds

I went ahead and planted seeds on Monday. Even though it’s nearly the end of April.

Corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, cantaloupe, peppers, sugar snap peas . . . and sweet peas (I know . . . sweet peas from seed + right now = just a waste of a container. But warmth comes late to my house in the woods . . . so it could happen). I only spent about $8 on potting soil and seed packets — I’ve had the empty pots forever. If anything grows at all, it was totally worth it.

Also, I just had to test out my forgotten “green house.” Better late than never? Maybe?

Ah well, sometimes things are late.

But then again, you never know about gardens. So much isn’t up to you.

* * * * *

Our house is surrounded by Pacific Northwest jungle: thimble berries, black berries, rhododendrons, maples and some sort of unidentifiable saplings taller than the house.

White blossoms flit wildly from two too-tall cherry trees in my yard. I wonder what they’d be like today if we’d pruned them five years ago when we moved into this house. Maybe the next tenant will be willing to pay someone to venture up into the web of power lines and trim back the branches to bring the fruit into reach. And maybe they’ll get to them before the birds do . . .

We had a peach tree . . . discovered it after our first summer, enveloped by blackberry tendrils. The fruit was sweet and juicy — with cling free stones. We thought we’d help it by freeing it from the grasp of the thorny berries. But glorious freedom killed it. Not a leaf on that sad tree since.

I can see it from the trampoline, bare and accusing among the sea of green.

I tell my youngest son the three nameless trees on the edge of our yard may very well be overgrown weeds.

Really? He asks, jumping a little harder on the trampoline, bouncing me uncomfortably high.

No, probably not.  Also, be gentle with the mother.

But I don’t really know. They could be.

So — different subject — what does rude mean? I ask him.

He says a few silly words about gas and noises, and we laugh. I have a house full of boys. It’s just how it is.

But I am actually serious, and curious, The Scriptures say ‘Love is not rude.’ What do you think love should be then, if it isn’t supposed to be rude? What’s the opposite?

Respect, he says on the bounce.

Ah, I say. Just what I was thinking.

* * * * *

It’s an ominous task, raising children.

Sometimes lessons are late and awkward, but we teach them anyway because better late than never is more serious with life than with sweet peas.

So we pray. And teach and ask and listen.

Respect is an ongoing lesson. We’re a house full of teasers and jokers so crossing the line and appropriate words are phrases we use often. Respect is about manners and authority, yes. But it’s also about dignity. And worth. And honor.

Maybe that’s why it has a place here, in the definition of love by St. Paul.

Love is not rude, also translated: Love does not dishonor others. Love does not force itself on others. Love does not behave itself unseemly. Love does not act unbecomingly. Love does not behave inappropriately.

Respect is an expression of God’s sort of love. It’s more than manners, it’s how we treat people.

Don’t take what isn’t yours and call it love.

Don’t promise more than you can give just so you can get and call it love.

Don’t belittle and humiliate and call it love.

Value virtue, don’t violate it.

* * * * *

Sometimes, the best time for lessons has passed. Maybe the weeds grew into trees while you were barely clinging to life. Maybe you were left alone to manage the jungle yourself. And now cultivating respect seems impossible.

My friend, I am convinced that it is ALWAYS better late than never.

Lessons give way to letting go and take the form of prayers and divine moments. But there is always hope good and beautiful things will grow. Even from late-planted seeds.

The garden may not look exactly like we’d hoped or planned.

But you never know with gardens. So much isn’t up to you.