Late last summer in Kip’s and my community garden plot a mystery plant sprouted from our compost pile, and curious to find out what it might be, we decided to let grow.
And grow it did! Within a few weeks it had spread out to cover almost the whole garden, and since most of the other plants had begun to die down by then we just let it have its way. Judging by the leaves we thought it might be a pumpkin, a suspicion that seemed to be confirmed when small round fruits began to form.
As it turned out, though, they weren’t pumpkins. They were some kind of squash we were unfamiliar with, the name of which I discovered quite by accident while visiting a botanical gardens recently: Sweet Dumpling Squash.
Now that fall has come and the garden has died down, we’re feasting on the squash we didn’t intend to grow and finding it to be quite delicious, similar in taste to an acorn squash but sweeter.
The unexpected bounty which we had nothing to do with cultivating got me thinking about so many things in my life that come freely, gifts I haven’t earned but without which my life would be difficult if not impossible, like beloved friends who land in my path by sheer grace, like the air I’m breathing right now that I had nothing to do with generating, like all the ingenuity and artistry of generations past that weave their way through so many activities in a single day.
If you take time to think about it, it’s quite astonishing how many things bless our lives not because we earned them, but because someone or something expressed the potential they held within, whether a squash seed bursting forth into a thriving vine and putting food on our table or an inventor who well over a century ago made it possible for me to flip a switch on my livingroom wall and have instant light.
It’s easy to fall into the notion that life is about struggle and that it’s up to each of us as individuals to toil our way into bounty, but the renegade squash plant reminds me that abundance is at the very heart of creation and oftentimes our task is simply to make way for the blessings that want to sprout in our lives.
This Thanksgiving I am pondering the parable of the squash plant that grew so abundantly and unexpectedly in our garden simply because a small seed somehow landed in the rich nutrients of our composting kitchen scraps.
My prayer is that my eyes will always be open to such miracles of blessing, and that my heart will offer the rich soil of gratitude in which the Universe’s abundance can thrive.