March 25, 2011

Garlic: A Parable

As I looked out the side door yesterday, I noticed a patch of garlic. I was puzzled: Where did that come from? Then, I remembered.

Two years ago, Mrs. Smith—octogenarian, gardener, church member—knocked on my door. She held up a white plastic Wal-Mart bag with the explanation that she’d been thinning her garlic and thought I’d like some. Her daughter had driven her over to my house, and was waiting in the car, so Mrs. Smith handed me the garlic and shuffled to
the car, headed, no doubt to divide her irises and trim her confederate jasmine.

I paused for a moment, bag in hand. I’m no gardener: I don’t like bugs, sweat, or dirt. And the only garlic I use comes pre-minced in a jar. I had no idea what to do with this gift. So, I shrugged, walked into the garage, and dumped it (bag and all) into a plastic mop bucket. I forgot about it.

A few months later, Mrs. Smith stumbled and broke her hip. Her mind had also begun to wander, so her daughter moved her into a local nursing home. When I last went to visit her, she was in a wheel-chair, unable to complete her sentences. The gardener now sits indoors, forgetting the names of her beloved plants.

Last fall, I was cleaning out the garage and discovered a cracked bucket with a Wal-Mart bag inside. I opened it to find the garlic: dry, shriveled, shut away from sun and dirt for 18 months. I hesitated; the trash can was beside me, and I was on a clearing-out campaign. But, instead, I grabbed a shovel, walked to the side yard, dug a hole, and shook the tangled contents of the bag into the dirt. With my hands, I raked dirt clods over the mess, and walked away. I forgot it again.

Today, I have garlic in abundance. Hey, I might even figure out how to mince it into something useful!

The encouragement of my real-life parable is simple:
Mrs. Smith is a kingdom-worker.
Her garlic is the Gospel, given with effort and love.
And I am that careless person who can’t be bothered to cultivate the Gospel in my life.

And God, yes, God, is the grower of garlic and savior of sinners who, in spite of Mrs. Smith’s weakness and my failings, made those green stalks grow long after we had both forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. I hope that one day you will divide the garlic and pass it on.


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