So why did I do it? Because it had to be done. This is one way we manage not only to survive on what we make, but to eat fairly well in spite of what we make. This is how we fed two teenage boys and remained financially solvent. And it wasn’t all bad.
Some days I managed to do a lot of meditating while I worked. When you must do the same action over and over, like peeling four hundred tomatoes, it becomes automatic, so you can use your mind for better things, pondering recent lessons you have heard, drawing conclusions from verses you have read, and praying through some of the problems that beset you.
Keith helped me out. I am not quite what I used to be, and the live-in help left quite a few years ago. We cannot “chat” over our work as most couples can. Sometimes I touched his arm to get his attention so I could tell him something I thought important. Other times he spoke (since I don’t have to see to hear) and then I could reply when he looked up. Once or twice we got into a friendly competition. He still cannot fill a jar as quickly as I can—his hands are bigger and not as well trained, but what he could do still meant jars I did not have to fill myself. And even after forty-one years, or more probably because of them, it was pleasant to be together.
The other day Lucas said something like, “Isn’t it funny how we look forward to the garden starting, and then near the end look forward to it ending?” And he is right—except for the peppers, things are nearly at an end, and I am glad. Still, at the end of each day’s work the past few months, I looked on the rows of jars cooling on an old rag of a towel laid across the countertop and felt a sense of accomplishment, despite the occasional tedium, the many aches, and the pools of sweat on the floor from the rising steam in the kitchen.
I wish you could see my pantry—twenty-three jars of tomatoes, fifteen jars of salsa, eighteen jars of dill pickles, a dozen jars each of okra dills and pickled banana pepper rings, and thirty jars of three kinds of jellies and jams. Then open the freezer—two dozen bags of corn, twenty bags of green beans, ten bags of lima beans, eight bags of zipper cream peas, twelve quarts of tomato sauce, and eight quarts of blueberries. The best is yet to come though, when my grocery bill totals half what it might have been and ultimately, when we eat it all.
So maybe it was not what some might consider a “summer vacation.” In fact, I also had a couple of days worth of testing at the eye clinic mixed in there somewhere, but it was a worthwhile venture that did us far more good than tanning at a beach might have.
I think living a Christian life might be the same sort of vacation. Some days it is hard work. Some days it is tedious. Some days it causes us pain. But we can make even the worst days better by meditating on the comfort in God’s word, and by talking to Him whenever we want to. We have a spiritual family who will help bear our burdens, who will weep when we weep and rejoice when we rejoice, people who will make the bad days go quicker and the good days even happier.
And then before you know it, it’s almost over. But there are things we can look back on with satisfaction, unlike our friends in the world who will have so much to regret. They will also have nothing to look forward to, while for us the best is yet to come, and aren’t we looking forward to that?
For all of us summer will soon turn to fall, and after that the winter. Make sure your pantry is full.
And I heard the voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth, yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their works follow with them, Rev 14:13.