I’ve never played Farmville (a mobile phone game) but I know that it has something to do with planting seeds, watching your crops grow and harvesting them at just the right time.
I’d rather do this in real life.
I’ve said many times that the garden – and all of nature – is truly my greatest teacher. Why? Because it’s not theoretical, it’s not ‘digital,’ it’s not an abstraction, it’s not open to interpretation. It’s Real Life happening right before your eyes, in your hands, being eaten in your own mouth.
Yesterday my son and I visited a real farm called Underwood Family Farms. The kids love it. You arrive full of anticipation, stop by the farm stand, visit with some animals, and then head out to the vast fields to go pick your own crops.
Don’t laugh. Yes, this is actually what (some) city people do to connect more with (cultivated) nature and with the food we eat. We spend $25 on gas to drive for an hour (each way) and then spend $3/person to pick your own produce in addition to the cost of the food itself.
When you do the math, maybe Farmville is looking pretty good.
But, in Farmville, you don’t get to experience the open blue sky, dirt under your fingernails or the taste of warm, just-picked fruit out in the field.
And you certainly would have missed Cute Old Grandma who I observed out by the strawberries. She was this older woman who was following her small grandson like a shadow. She stood just behind the little guy as he made his way through row after row of crops.
Her sweet demeanor and quiet authority had such a presence out there. These are the only two words I heard her say, in the most loving way you could image:
You see, when you are out in the field and ready to pick, you have to be very observant about which fruit is ready and which fruit is, well…not ready. At the store, you can blindly pick up a carton of berries and get on with your life. Someone else has done the work for you. And, if you are reading a book on gardening or farming, well of course that’s still just theoretical, until you’re out there doing the work.
But not in the field. That’s where it all takes place.
And if you look closely, you will see that one strawberry is at the peak of ‘perfection’ while the one just next to it is green as can be (and completely inedible).
For a moment there, I sort of saw all the tiny berries in this field as people, each one either ‘ready’ to take the next step towards something (whatever that may be), or, simply ‘not ready.’ There is no in between. The berry is either red, sweet and ready to be picked, or you leave it on the plant for it to ripen. After all, why would pick a fruit before its prime?
You cannot force a green strawberry to turn red, nor can you force yourself, or anyone else in your life to be somewhere they are not. It’s not possible, nor is it helpful or supportive to do so. There can be gentle encouragements, but ultimately it’s up to each of us to choose to take in the ‘nutrients’ offered to us. To become ready – or not. And even if we take the nutrients offered to us, we each have our own ‘ripening’ process and time table. It can’t be forced (darn).
One thing is for sure, Mother Nature never gives up on her seeds. It’s designed this way. She sees the bright red ones getting everyone’s attention, fulfilling some goal or journey, ready to be picked and eaten. To be enjoyed. I think she’s happy when things reach their fullness – so beautiful. But she also keeps shining her light and offering rain and rich soil to the ‘not ready’ ones that especially need love and attention.
For picking purposes, the ‘ready’ ones are what your eye is drawn to, but for loving purposes, it’s the ‘not ready’ ones who need the most TLC, kindness and compassion. They are working towards a place, but are not quite there. Rather than being overlooked, I think they need the most attention.
Does the Farmville app cover this?