God sprinkles wonderful humans in my life, so I created a blog series to display them. Treasures in Clay comes from 2 Corinthians 4:7 which says we are clay jars holding precious treasures. In this series, I’ll share treasures I found in the people I’ve met. I hope each story will inspire and remind you that your worth truly comes from what’s inside.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”2 Corinthians 4:7
This summer I gardened with a girl named Summer.
“Gardened” sounds too pleasant though. Your mind probably goes to pulling weeds, watering flowers, and patting down soil. And you wouldn’t be wrong; you’d just have to multiply everything by 95% humidity.
Pulling weeds meant yanking out thistles, crabgrass, and other questionable plants into piles bigger than both of us combined. Watering flowers meant scooping water from the lake in a 20 gallon bucket, carrying it up a hill, and dumping it on shrubs we just stuck in the ground. Patting down soil meant jumping on our shovels to break through grass and roots in order to heave out pounds of clay and dirt for a big enough hole.
I met Summer when I showed up on my first day of work wearing shorts. I quickly learned that shorts while “gardening” is a horrible idea no matter how hot or humid it is, and that this plant-growing, tree frog-loving girl named Summer was a sort of beautiful I hadn’t seen yet.
On the first day Summer lost her way driving to our job site. She burst into bubbly laughter and swished her short, strawberry-blonde hair across her shoulders as she looked back to pull the car back around.
That’s Summer though—you kinda get lost with her. She lost our tools, buckets, papers, sweatshirts, and gloves so many times I almost questioned her sanity. But it was just as typical for her to lose supplies and directions as it was for her to lose herself in the beauty of nature. Or in laughter. She taught me how to get lost in plants. We got lost in conversation and definitely lost track of time.
Knees to dirt, shoulder-to-shoulder, ripping out weeds in the Wisconsin sun was where the seeds of our friendship grew. Not instantly, but roots sunk deeper day by day.
Summer does relationships the way she tends to plants—except better. This is her God-given treasure.
During the past three months of frizzy hair, squished pb&j’s, and poison ivy, Summer tried to teach me how to plant, but instead I came away knowing how to keep relationships alive. For this, I am eternally grateful. Here is what I learned:
It starts with soil. Plants need nutrient-filled soil for their roots, just like people need a deep foundation for friendships. Summer digs in by asking questions, offering help, and sharing her own story. It’s the little conversations, the experiences spent together, and the special moments that make the soil extra rich. She gently packs these things down, layer by layer. A relationship can’t start without healthy soil for roots to hold onto.
Steady stream of water. Like a plant needs water, people need love. And Summer showers it like a rain storm in June—relentlessly. She has given me more hugs than I’ve received from anyone (other than my mom). She told me she loves me every day before I left. She brought dozens of quote clippings for my art project. She sewed me the most precious pillowcase for my new apartment. She paid for way too many of my coffees and even got an Instagram just to keep up with me. Oh, and I could go on and on and on. Love must be constant and overflowing.
Some air. Plants exchange oxygen and CO2, and people exchange in communication. Small talk with Summer never felt like small talk because I always knew it mattered. Summer eagerly listened to my ever-changing emotions and scattered stories, then offered her own opinion and vulnerably opened her heart too. But like plants, people sometimes need a little room to breathe. Summer and I shared many silent moments in the woods comforted only by each other’s presence and the air blowing between us. We talked. We listened. We breathed. Communication must ‘grow’ both ways.
And plenty of sunshine. This is Summer’s area of expertise, and also my favorite part about her—mainly because I don’t know how she does it. But then again, I don’t understand how real sunshine makes plants grow either. Is it a coincidence that her middle name is “Sol”, the spanish name for sun? I don’t think so. We spent eight hours a day in all kinds of weather, and I never saw a cloud in her eyes. She radiates positivity. Encouragement erupts out of her. If laughter was going out of style, it’s probably because Summer used it all. Summer simply shines, and I can’t help but feel a little lighter when I am in her presence. A relationship should leave your heart a little warmer and your life a little brighter.
I’m frustrated because I can’t fully capture Summer in words. It’s like trying to describe the splendor of a flower in full bloom; sometimes all you can do is stand in awe and thank God he put it in your path.
I never thought three months of pulling weeds would change my life. I can not only identify one plant from another, but because of Summer I learned how to grow relationships that flourish.
Whether you are a person or a plant, you are in good hands in Summer’s garden. Thank you for letting me grow there.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
ps: Isn’t she lovely? Summer, I love you.
pss: If you missed my first Treasures in Clay with Lilli, click here!