The need for the family garden is greater today than ever before. It seems that in the modern day rush of life that many have begun to feel that something is missing. The more we run, the deeper the aching grows. To spite the incredible benefits of all our time saving devices and programs, we find that we are busier than ever, and to spite long hours of focused work, we feel that we are contributing little that is of intrinsic value.
In many instances, our children are discontent and feel that something is owed them. They seek for pleasure through video games and for a sense of self-esteem through sports, academic pursuits or other interests. Still, it seems that there is an overall feeling that it isn't quite enough. Those who are motivated, seek for higher and higher levels of achievement until they finally arrive where we hoped they would all along, a good job with good benefits making a descent salary. And yet, when all is said and done, they find themselves in the same boat -- feeling that something is missing -- feeling that they are contributing little that is of intrinsic value.
Over the years, I have pondered over this dilemma as I have watched it play out in myself and those that I love. The question arises: With all of our time saving, value enhancing, pleasure providing, self-esteem building programs and technology, what could we be missing that would leave us so devoid of the feeling of intrinsic worth?
I do not pretend to have a blanket solution to this modern enigma but I will draw a comparison that I think will shed light on one aspect of it.
One hundred and fifty years ago, our great, great grandparents arose early in the morning to go out and put their hands in the earth. Their hard days work was in direct contact with the soil and the fruit of their labors was the basic building blocks of life. As children sat around the table and gazed on a home cooked meal, they saw the potatoes, carrots, yams and tomatoes that they had planted, carefully nourished and harvested. The wheat in the bread was from last years harvest and the meat was from the cow they had raised from the time it was a calf. Children felt needed because they were needed.
Today, most of us run through our busy days with little to no contact with the soil that gives us life. In fact, we make sure to wash our hands with anti-bacterial soap just in case we might have come in contact with mother earth. We sit at our tables, assuming that we take the time to sit, and gaze on processed food that was grown by people we do not know. Once finished with our hurried meals, we rush off to slay our dragons -- to make and sell more things that people do not really need (at least in the intrinsic sense of the word) so that we can pay for our over-sized homes and all of the technology that keeps the whole thing going. But, not before we send our children off to school with words of encouragement that if they work hard and learn all they can, some day they will be able to be just like us.
Put in this way, it seems a little cynical but I am not a cynic. I believe that we can change our direction in a way that will begin to fill in the gaps that our modern society leaves out. We need to put our hands in the soil and our children need to feel the joy of contributing something of intrinsic worth to their families. I know of no better way to do this than the family garden. If you speak to people who garden, they will tell you that it is healing. By participating in the process of growing our own food, we may find that we feed more than our bodies but our whole souls too.