The Blessing of Dirty Fingernails


Often when I’ve just finished in the garden, I find myself cringing as I look down to see that my nails are completely blackened in some sort of reverse French manicure. I can’t really tell you why I cringe. Perhaps it is something a family member has said, or the looks I get in the store (not the garden/home improvement stores – they understand) but something about the glares makes me think I am “unclean” or dirty. It’s even worse when it’s my son’s fingernails; we get looks like “he hasn’t bathed in weeks” and “does he wash his hands?!”

What I have come to understand, this year especially, is that dirty nails shouldn’t be frowned upon… They should be celebrated! People forget what a blessing it is to have dirty nails. It means that your hands are calloused from the shovel or from the blisters of the rakes. It proves you know the meaning of hard work. It broadcasts that you have land to call your own… mistakes to make and lessons to learn.

As you’ve read before, we are a garden family. No one gets to skip out on the weeding, planting, harvesting, or watering. If Mom’s getting dirty, I’m getting dirty is my son’s motto… plus it’s an opportunity for a lesson in respect and appreciation. When you’ve worked the soil with your own hands, you appreciate it more. You are in awe of its power… You understand the metaphor of Mother Nature, and respect it so much more.

The analogy of Mother Nature comes from the caretaker of a nursling, the one who nurtures the child. As all mothers do, Mother Nature takes your offering and grows it into something of a miracle. She takes your garden seeds, protects them in the ground’s womb and gives them the nutrients they need. They take shape in the unseen, or the dirt, before they’re ever visually appreciated. With the proper nutrients and care, Mother Nature will support your seeds, and help them develop into a healthy fruit. However, time and again people are heard thanking Mother Nature for providing the weather needed for healthy harvest – confusing the “caretaker” as the “provider”.

In a conventional setting, the father is considered the provider. It works the same way with the ground. The Father is the provider: It is Him who provides the seed; He who provides the soil; He who provides the rain; and Him who provides the sun… just as He provided the Son.

“His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed… Even in the darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.” –Psalm 112:2, 4

As I harvested my first radishes of the season, I realized how blessed I was. I have a wonderful family, (albeit small, but the Lord does not give more than you can handle with his help… and believe me there are some days where I am begging for his help with my toddler), with a hardworking and calloused-hand husband. My soil is rich with nutrients that created a harvest, and hopefully, with His grace, a bounty.

We have planted our third set of radish seeds for Mother Nature to nurture, and are helping shape the plants as they grow. We have sought the advice of ‘elders’ (those with more experience than us when it comes to gardening), as wisdom is found in a council of many advisers. And while I am grateful to Mother Nature for nurturing those seeds, it is the providing Father that I am thanking.

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