The rewards of gardening

By Aziz Junejo | May 23, 2012

Summer gardening can be one of the many rewards of the season. Having already seeded my composted soil with the usual northwest favorites after careful cultivating and nurturing, I should yield a bountiful harvest by early September.

In a way, I feel we can all be good gardeners in life by implementing some of the same techniques.

Planting seeds of trust, honesty and reverence in acquaintances, friends and most importantly our love ones is a type of gardening. By sowing those seeds with showers of attention and rays of faith in an atmosphere of trust, we can build deep roots that will ensure those relationships flowers and blossom forever.

The seeds planted most important to me are with my family, because being a great spouse and raising good children requires time and attention in order to harvest what you sowed. While my family always comes first, frankly it gets harder each year to allocate the necessary time in a world with so many competing demands.

The prophet Muhammad said, “The best person among you is the one who treats his family members well, and I try to be the best person for my family.”

I, too, value my family and I love to spend time with them. I tend to make a big deal out of the meals we share together because it was a big part of my childhood. Looking back, I know it enriched my life with values while creating a strong devotion to family.

Summers are a great opportunity to make up for some of that lost time. My focus is on compulsory daily family dinners, which take place in the dinning room or out on the deck. Sitting together as a family is not for holidays only but, done regularly, it promotes stability throughout the year and I have found it the ideal time and place to reconnect and show my loved ones that they are my No. 1 priority.

Today, I believe one the most dangerous tendencies in America is to allow the disappearance of family meals. I remember fondly Mom’s home cooked meals with the whole family together at the dining room table. While dinnertime has traditionally been a place of nourishment and domestic issues, it can also be a place for educating and passing on our beliefs and values.

Muslims always start the meal with a specific designated prayer in order to thank God for His countless generosity and blessings. Good manners and guiding principles can subtly be absorbed in this kind of setting, children will be able to draw from lessons learned at the table throughout the rest of their lives.

At dinnertime, we all sit down at the same time, and the children stay until they are excused at the end. Our conversations are usually filled with inquires about each others’ day, combined with answers to some of today’s challenges.

I usually start off by asking, What was the most interesting thing that happened to everyone today? Which is followed by, Has anyone learned something remarkable they want to share at the table?

After dinner, we have outdoor activities in and around Puget Sound, such as walks at one of our many parks, sunsets at the beach or a stroll around the neighborhood. While we may do less driving this summer due to fuel prices, there is always plenty to do close to home, and most importantly, its really about spending time together as a family.

Today, it’s increasingly hard for families to be together, but everyone making time for dinner is a great starting point with countless rewards. Many of our childhood memories are filled with lessons our parents incorporated into dinnertime conversations and the time shared, which I am sure we all agree was precious.

By planning ahead and making adjustments to our busy schedules, we can create enjoyable family mealtimes and activities for our families during the summer months.

Like in gardening, by nurturing those interactions, we may find flowers of love and friendship that can bloom now and forever.

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