Not doing any good

Last night as I was planting a patch of petunias, I was thinking about how so much of gardening is like life. It's not a new idea or anything. The Savior himself used parables to this effect. On Sunday I taught my seven year olds that faith is like a seed. The field is ripe, ready to harvest. Sound familiar? The comparisons are many, so I will just tell you about the thought I had while planting petunias.

With an expensive car repair and a central air system to put in this summer, finishing the yard has once again been relagated to the back of the budget (sorry neighbors). There is always something more pressing, so any yard work we do (and have done) comes (and has come) in small snatches--small snatches of money, small snatches of time, small snatches of commitment.

When we first moved in to our house, we created one flower bed. It's right off the front steps, easy to water, easy to see the results. The next year we created another one. So forth. You get the idea. But I think of the times we have gone out to dig up ginormous weeds. Weeds weeds weeds. It sucks. It's hard. And when you're done you don't have a weed patch anymore, you have a dirt patch. Nice.

So I was thinking, as I was planting peturnias, what if we had not started putting in flowers. What if we had made no effort to beautify? What if all we ever did was pull weeds?

And I think now you see what I am getting at. We can spend so much time keeping out the bad, the ugly, the evil, and the immoral, work tirelessly to eradicate it from our homes, our minds, and our families. But are we actively replacing it with the beautiful things?

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Quick exerpt:

Chloe was beautiful. I could admit that, but only because it couldn’t be denied. I just hoped Tec wasn’t basing his affection on that. I worried he was because there was nothing else to base it on.

The worst part of the whole situation was that Chloe didn’t know yet. Her father had agreed and everything was in place, but nobody dared to tell her that, minus a ceremony and some documents, she was betrothed. Her father was at his wit’s end, I thought, trying to discipline her, and so he had made arrangements to hand that all over to Tecumeni.

“It’s not that she is bad,” Tec had so optimistically explained to me. “It’s not that she is doing any harm, only that she is not doing any good.”

I’d had a good scoff at that.

“If you won’t hear when I speak of the Spirit of God—“

“I won’t,” I broke in.

“Then you cannot understand how I know this is the right thing for me,” he finished.

Tec was always so steady. He was always prepared. He was smart. How many girls could say they actually admired their brothers? I did. I always had. But this issue of the imminent betrothal being the right thing for him? I couldn’t support it. But like my very presence in this village, and this was the part that grated, there was no other choice.

That was how we left the issue of Chloe, the Nephite girl who was not doing any good.

This is a conversation between Tecumeni and Ava, a Lamanite set of twins that Keturah and the gang bring back from the Land of Nephi. As it turns out, they both had it wrong. As you find out later, Chloe was doing good through small acts of service she never let anyone see. She was making her own world beautiful while everyone else could still only see the dirt patch.

So keep gardening. But don't just pull weeds, plant something beautiful too. Tend it. Nurture it. And soon your garden will be so beautiful others will pattern theirs after yours.

For other excerpts, see my Writing page. There are new excerpts from The West Sea and In Enemy Arms as well as the links to Daughter of Helaman, Stripling Warrior, and Daughter of the Lamanite King.
And I invite you to take the time to read Stripling Warrior in its entirety.