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It is not a miracle—I know that. But it is extraordinary, something worth exclaiming about.

For twenty-one consecutive mornings, I have risen and walked out to my garden, and they were there, waiting for me. The sugar peas, I mean, sweet peas, more shell than pea, and yet the shell so sweet that it tastes as good as the little peas inside. It’s all delicious.

I planted them this spring and gave them a fence to climb up, but that’s all I did. And now, for twenty-seven consecutive mornings, I have picked a meal (30 or 40) of peas. I feel a bit like an Israelite in the desert must have felt going out for his daily manna. Each day a new gallery of peas hanging from the vines, waiting to be picked.

Where do they come from? You’d swear they were all picked yesterday and yet, now, twenty-four hours later, a whole new batch has arrived, and they are hanging where yesterday when I left the garden there was nothing but vine. Oh, and they’re mischievous too. After I have picked the row, I head back to where I started and I find one. . .three. . .four more, hiding in plain sight.

I can’t really call them a miracle since it is a natural happening. Somehow, while I was living my life apart from the garden, 30 or 40 small white flowers opened and immediately went about the business of becoming peas.

You would call it growth if you were a literalist or focus if you were a motivational speaker, but I call it mystery. I am as amazed today, after three pea-picking weeks, as I was after the second pea-picking day. And I am not tired of eating them, either: raw with or without dip, in a salad, or cooked and on my plate next to some mashed potatoes and a slice of roast beef.

This year these sugar peas have been my superstars, but it’s not just peas that generate wonder. Those mashed potatoes I mentioned started out as small chunks of Yukon gold seed potatoes. My wife and I planted them on Good Friday as per my grampa’s instructions sixty-five years ago. In a week or two I will ask my nine-year-old granddaughter to go gold mining with me. I will take my old potato fork and step it into the soil several inches in front of the now dead potato plant. As I bend it up, she will see hints of gold and then, after my second thrust, she will scramble to grasp three or five or six bright Yukon Gold potatoes.

How can one not be amazed by that. I call it mystery because even though science tells me that these seed potatoes or pea seeds are genetically coded to become potatoes or peas, I don’t know where they were coded and I certainly don’t know how. But I believe I know who coded them.

Everything in my garden (except the carrots which stayed asleep inside the seeds I planted and never showed up) is a “wonder plant.” Every spring the asparagus crowns I planted next to the alley two decades ago flex their muscles and send stalks of asparagus torquing through the soil. They came so swiftly this warm, early spring that some of them had gone to seed before I noticed them.

And the beets–deep, dark maroon globes—seem eager for their next stage and have pushed most of themselves above the soil as if to say, “Here we are, tip us out of the soil and pickle us.” (My wife’s pickled beets are relished at dinner tables in five different states.)

What can I say about the lovely blue-green broccoli plant that giveth and giveth and giveth again. Like the sugar peas, raw or cooked they are a savory pleasure.

For years my brother has been growing beautiful kohlrabi (a light green bulb with lots of tentacled leaves growing out of it). Mine never amounted to much. But this year, wonderful kohlrabi. You cut the tentacles off, peel the surface layer like you would a potato (though the skin is much thicker), and cut the peeled Kohlrabi into slices. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the slices. Wonderful.

“The universe,” says Guido De Bres, “is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures great and small are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God. . .”

Every morning I get up early, grab an old gallon ice cream bucket, and walk into a chapter of that beautiful book–my garden. And every morning I ponder the invisible things of God, like those peas that weren’t there yesterday but are today, like those Yukon Golds beneath the soil, like the Brandywine tomatoes which are still green and not nearly as wide or as brandy-colored as they will be soon.

Beyond that, of course, I ponder God’s majesty and power, imagination and creativity, and wild confidence in us humans, saying “Tend and care for this garden. Earth.”

Kohlrabi photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

David Schelhaas

David Schelhaas taught English at Dordt College. He is the author of a book on word histories called Angling in the English Stream, a memoir called The Tuning of the Heart, and three collections of poetry including his most recent collection Tongues that Dance. He lives in Sioux Center, Iowa.


  • Daniel Meeter says:

    How can one not be amazed.

  • MarilynNorman says:

    It must be that Iowa soil!!!

  • Tom Boogaart says:

    A joy to read and the manna reference left me pondering…the whole natural world producing our daily bread. What better word for this than mystery.

  • Sharon says:

    I loved this. Makes me want to grow some veggies, also.

  • Jack says:

    Funny, our pastor’s homily this week affirmed that such ARE miracles and that Jesus revealed that we are responsible for creating them, recognizing them. Yeah, that’s the UCC for ya.

  • Cathy Smith says:

    Beautiful reverential writing. Thank you.

  • Anita says:

    Beautiful writing, Dave!

  • John Paarlberg says:

    “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” — Henry David Thoreau

  • Jan Zuidema says:

    Along with the wonders of bird, mammal, fish, every living thing, as well as us, all created by and for God simply because he could. How can anyone not believe in this awesome and delight-filled God?

  • Henry Baron says:

    Like Adam in the Garden, Dave – thanks!

  • Mark S. Hiskes says:

    I’m not a gardener, but your writing here and elsewhere always makes me wish I were. Thank you!

  • Pam Adams says:

    Dave, I too am not a gardener but delight in your bounty.

  • Scott Hoezee says:

    Lyric! Thanks, Dave. And speaking of miracles: we are harvesting a large amount of acorn squash. Thing is, my wife never planted acorn squash this year. We think it was from a seed in our compost that somehow survived and took hold after my wife mixed compost into the soil this spring. It is now the largest plant in the garden!

  • John W Zwart says:

    The author of a Christianity and science book that I used for many years while teaching did not like to define miracles in terms of supernatural versus natural since that tends to downplay role of the natural as God’s handiwork. Instead he described a miracle as a conspicuous event that authenticates God or His chosen servant. By that definition, your garden (and mine) is producing miracles.

  • Marlyn Visser says:

    Dave, I am contemplating leaving the farm and moving into town. However; the old adage “You can move
    a farmer from the farm but you can not remove farming from the farmer” has continuously haunted me.
    Your post has given me encouragement. You having moved from the farm to town, seam to enjoy the transition by cultivating your vegetable and flower beds. Maybe the adage should be “You can translocate
    the farm boy from agriculture to refined culture but you can not remove the admiration of God’s creation from a redeemed horticulturist”.

    Marlyn Visser

  • Glenda Buteyn says:

    Dave, How I wish I could have seen your garden this summer. Hopefully another time. Your garden and your writing both sing “This is my Father’s World.” ( It’s one of my favorite songs)

  • Douglas MacLeod says:

    Sheer delight! I love going with my granddaughter (4) into our garden and at each discovery of a ripe tomato or pepper declaring, “Here’s another miracle!” Eating raw beans in the garden together I first ask, “Shall we eat this miracle?” and with delight she participates in the liturgy, “God is good and so are beans!”

  • Arthur Tuls says:

    Tomatoes, beans, green peppers, lettuce, and cilantro–these are the tastes of God’s grandeur in our
    garden which we are savoring these days. I also savor your writing. Thanks!

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