There are so many moments each day when I wonder if what I do matters. Will stopping in the middle of the grocery store to discuss the power of the consumer to change slavery practices encourage my children grow into caring adults or will they eventually shrug their eccentric mother off as "odd" for only buying fair trade chocolate? Will poking a few seeds into my suburban yard create an atmosphere of stewardship or weediness? Will we live better because there is chard in my fridge? Do my children grasp the tenderness of the earth because I refuse to buy them watermelons in March?
The sad truth is that we have allowed the bottom line to answer these questions far too often. Yes, my chickens cost way more than the five dollars a week I fork over for eggs. Can I buy things more cheaply than I can make them or grow them? Almost always. But I find that the sweater that took two and a half years to make is precious in a way that a cheaper one can never be. You will spend more buying locally and fairly than not, but for us, the choice to buy gentle food is one we can live with. Does that mean that our cart is barely full when we reach the end of our budget? Yes. Truly. But, paying more to know that the reaper of my food did not go home with a lung full of poison makes my apple a little sweeter.
And that is why I buy fair trade chocolate and plant seeds in my yard every year. It is not because I am a good gardener. My failures rank from the mundane to horror flick carnage, but I am convinced that we press in close to the heart of the Creator when we dig our fingers into the dirt that was declared "good."
This year for Christmas my brother bought each of the kids an apple tree. I can imagine the joy that we will share as the buds turn to blossoms and the swell to fruit. I can imagine watching my children climb those knotty limbs for the out of the way and way up high. I am so glad that we got to plant them so that when they fruit, my children will know that abundance is real but often delayed. For me, when I doubt if my life is worthy of a story, I think of the tale that the dirt tells. I think of the countless generations it has fed and then reclaimed. I think of that moment of inception when the joy of the Creator marveled at the bounty just begun. Then as I watch the branches of those little trees, planted with so much joy and faith, swell with buds and promise, I know: my story joins in the Great Story and finding a tree that will allow you to enter into its centurian story gives a place to life that smacks of abundance.