The garden, summer projects, & the killing of al Qaeda

Below I am reposting something I wrote in early May 2011, upon learning the death of Osama Bin Laden. At the time, I posted it on Facebook and in a church newsletter. Facebook discontinued showing posted “notes,” so I am posting it here. After the killing of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s successor this week in Kabul, along with the carnage in Ukraine, it seems we need to be reminded again of the value of life and the tragedy of a life lived in hatred and evil. But before we go there, let me tell you about my garden. It is a more pleasant topic.

The Garden

The garden coming along nicely. Over the past week, I have enjoyed daily tomato sandwiches. The tomatoes are just beginning to come in. I grew 7 varieties from seeds and have 21 plants. Most of the tomatoes will be canned or frozen for sauce, soup and salsa.

The cucumbers are fantastic (I have 5 varieties), but they are beginning to fade out. So far, I have put up 8 quarts of lime pickles (and have another 8 quarts soaking as I write), along with 6 quarts of sweet salad cube pickles. Last summer, I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when the bulk of cucumbers came in and only put up one batch of pickles. I shouldn’t have to buy any this year!

In the middle of the garden (The hay is way too high and too brown, but we’ve had so much rain the farmer who cuts it just finished it this week)

I have eaten plenty of summer squash (yellow and zucchini) and have given a few away and some have ended up being recycled in my compost bin. Swiss chard is also doing well. The lettuce I finally turned over and will replant later this month.

This year, I am also growing winter squash and it appears the harvest of butternut squash will be incredible. There is no better soup than butternut squash soup, in my opinion. Acorn squash is also good to bake. Both tend to hold better than the summer squash. If you don’t eat the yellow squash in a few days, it goes soft.

My other summer project: The basement

bathroom tile

In addition to my garden, I have been working in the basement. Last week I finally finished tiling the bathroom. Next week I hope to get in the tub and toilet and be done with the bathroom A lot of the remaining work is finishing up with door trim and painting and putting in baseboard moulding. What have you been up to this summer?

The Death of Bin Laden

As an American, I went to bed happy last night after learning of the death of Osama Bin Laden. The man was capable of great evil and brought much suffering into the world. Yet I felt a tinge of guilt at the jubilation I and others were feeling. I spent much of the past 18 hours wondering about what an appropriate Christian response to Bin Laden’s death should be. How should those of us who follow the man from Galilee, who teaches us to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors, handle the death of an enemy who has been responsible for so much evil in the world? Should we rally and jump for joy, or should we be more subdued and ponder the deeper mysteries of life and death? I think the latter is more appropriate.

In the Book of Proverbs, we’re advised not to gloat over the demise of our enemies. Such behavior is not pleasing to our God (Proverbs 24:17-18). King David had an opportunity to gloat over the death of his enemy, King Saul, whose death opened the way for David to assume the throne. But David grieved for Saul and his sons (2 Samuel 1). Death should always remind us of our humanity. Although God has created us with remarkable abilities, we are not God, and once life is gone, we cannot restore it. At the time of death, we should be humbled. Bin Laden was obviously endowed by his Creator with great talents which could have been used in ways to have alleviated suffering in the world. Instead of using his talents in such a manner, Bin Laden used his talents to build a network of hate and evil. We should grieve over a life wasted and which caused such much pain. But we should also remember that Bin Laden, although an evil man, is not the author of evil. Just because he is dead doesn’t mean that the world is going to suddenly become a harmonious place. Evil is still present. We will still face temptations and, until this age ends, we will deal with evil people. And although few of us are capable of the evil of a man like Bin Laden, none of us are completely sinless. 

At a time such as this, we should humble ourselves before God and one another, confessing our own sins and the sins of the human race. We should thank God for those who were brave enough to carry out this mission, but we should not celebrate over their accomplishment. Instead, we should continue to pray, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer, for God’s will to be done and God’s kingdom to come. And finally, we should challenge evil, not just with the sword, but with acts of charity and kindness, demonstrating the grace that our Savior has shown us.       

–Jeff Garrison
May 4, 2011