Isn’t it frustrating how at some point in college you realize your mother really was right all along? All those tid bits of advice that at the time felt like nagging, turns out they were actually valuable insights into the cycles and seasons of our lives. As some of these seasons are changing I can’t help but see how tightly they connect us all.

Let me back up, this summer Andy came to me with the idea of starting a community garden to make better use of the backyard. With a little planning we came up with an idea and a plan. The idea was to take a currently empty and unused area of the backyard, put in raised garden beds, and donate the produce to Smokey’s Pantry, a food pantry run by our friends at the Tyson House. Now if you know me, you know I am a planner to the core. So naturally there were many carefully thought out steps in our process. We started with this…


…which led to this…


…and with a little help from my loving father we got to this….


…and with a fearless group of volunteers at grounds day we filled them and planted…


…like I said I’m a planner…


Now I’m not going to lie, I know little to nothing about gardening. I am an animal science major, and believe it or not that does not mean I know a single thing about plants. So a few google searches later, I took my best guess at tending the garden, and every day the slow and continual growth brought so much joy and encouragement. Yet, what felt like suddenly, we had giant plants and very few veggies to show for it.


Oh, the frustration.

But we picked what we could and walked our small bag of vegetables down to the Tyson House. I expected this visit to involve Andy and I delivering the squash, followed by an obligatory thank you from the students at the Tyson House, upon which Andy and I would quickly depart, hoping to spare any embarrassment of producing such a pathetic offering. That’s not how it went at all.  We were met with a group of smiling faces, ultimately thrilled at our addition to the pantry. What followed was almost two hours of fellowship and conversation giving us a small glimpse into each other’s current season.


This garden is turning out to be the ultimate lesson in graciousness and love. At every single setback, when I am prepared for other’s frustration, instead I receive grace and love.  Building and planting timeline gets pushed back, grace and love; bunnies munch their way through the entire lot of beans, grace and love; squash plants take over the yard but don’t produce a full crop of squash, grace and love; show up at the Tyson House with only five butternut squash, grace and love.

Unfortunately, seasons are always changing. Fortunately, seasons are always changing.

Right now I don’t think the uneasy feeling of change is lost on anyone. But, like my mother (and father) have always said, “this too shall pass,” and heaven help me she was right, again. So as we all enter and exit these stages and seasons of our lives may we all learn to give and receive grace more freely. In doing so may we seek to see the ways we are more connected, than we are isolated.

Friends love yourselves and love others. And in the words of our dear friend Drew Holcomb, “show a little mercy, and hold on to love real tight. “

Kristen Sommerfeld
Senior Animal Science Major
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville