This evening the Oman family ate cucumbers in triumph. The euphoria came from the fact that these cucumbers were the first fruits of our garden. We (meaning mainly Heather) have toiled in the soil, mixing the sweat of our brow with earth, water, and sky to bring forth vegetables! This is heady, elemental one-with-the-earth kind of stuff. The cucumbers, of course, taste infinitely better than those pathetic, commercially grown things you buy in the store. Which brings me, of course, to the apparent decline in prophetic counsel on gardens.
President Kimball was serious about gardens. There was a time when growing squash was a mark of righteousness and orthodoxy. The Church distribution center even produced pictures of happy Mormon families tending their watermelons. My dad likes to tell the story of how as a high counselor in an inner-city Salt Lake stake in the late 1970s he would invoke President Kimball in his monthly high council talks, exhorting members to clean up their weed and garbage strewn yards and plant some zucchini.
The “thou shalt garden” counsel, however, seems to have declined of late. When was the last time you heard a general conference address that associated following the prophet with weeding your sweet peas?
So what are we to make of the gardening counsel and other prophetic guidance that slowly fades from view? Here are some possible approaches:
1. This is just advice and was probably based on the fact that President Kimball had fond memories of gardening in Arizona growing up. Don’t worry about. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
2. This is actually an interpretation of some underlying gospel principle. The point is to find the true spirit of the counsel. Stop worrying about your zucchini production.
3. Gardens are necessary for our salvation. We need to remember this, even if it isn’t emphasized. You non-cultivators are going to hell. Ha! Ha! Ha!
4. Prophetic counsel is inspired and religiously normative, but only so long as the prophet keeps harping on it.
Thoughts? Cucumber recipes?