I am standing next to a large riding arena on a farm in Blaine. The melodic putter of a tractor as it passes back and forth, softening the arena for the evening’s event, is a pleasant reminder of why I love the East Tennessee country. The man approaching me has the build of someone who works the land, his eyes shadowed under the brim of his white Stetson.
The man extends his hand and without a second thought I take it, returning the firm grip with one equally as firm. “How are you today, Nathan?” The distinctive Southern twang is a comfort to my ears. At the moment, concerns about social distancing and viruses and face masks are far away. All that matters is a friendly conversation, the tranquility around us, the scents that come with being outside.
I am at home in East Tennessee. These are my people, and I am proud to live here. Their connection to the outdoors and to what it means to work the land is something to be admired, and I feel blessed to be a part of that.
My friends who are life coaches and counselors say depression and addiction are on the rise. I can’t help but wonder what people do all day that brings on such a sense of despair. If they are sitting in front of the television or computer screen and listening to the constant chatter of how the world is about to end, well, that would depress anyone. So if that’s you, then it is time for a change.
Most people don’t live on a farm like the one in Blaine, but almost everyone has enough space for a garden. And even 30 minutes in the garden caring for your plants is awesome therapy. There is something special about tending living things, even if they’re green and don’t have fur. And it seems like the more you love on them the bigger and better they grow, and that’s probably true for just about everything we choose to love.
The Bible says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” The garden’s a great metaphor for that. We plant seeds and seedlings and imagine flowers and vegetables. As we move through this pandemic, I lean on the message the garden relays and have faith that through it all we will grow too.