Someone asked, "What's the most exciting thing you've done?" I could have said several things. I've been on safari in Africa, watched three of my children being born, seen my writing career take off after illness and failure. Thrilling experiences, but not the most exciting. My final answer, in one word, was - radishes.
I've never done anything more exciting than growing my own radishes when I was three. I remember it so well.
First you raked the earth, then you made a groove in the soil with a stick, then you opened your packet of seeds, on the front of which was illustrated the platonic ideal of the radish. A huge crimson orb with a creamy base, topped by forests of greenery. My radishes would look like that!
Then you sowed your seeds, covered them up, impaled the empty packet on a stick through two holes and stuck it in the ground. And at three I honestly believed that picture on the packet had to face the row, so that, as the plants came up, they would know what to be. You'd squat on your haunches, staring at the ground, desperately hoping that the miracle might happen immediately. But of course, it didn't.
Oh, happy day, when green shoots first poked through the earth and became two minute leaves opening up like a pair of tiny hands, as if to say, "Here I am!"
Eventually, oh, second and happier day, the radishes were ready to pull. You'd carry a bunch of them proudly to your mother, and say, "Got a few radishes, mum." She would seem so pleased. That evening there they'd be on the tea-table - my radishes. You know, I hated radishes.
But I loved my mother's reaction to that first small harvest. My mum died six years ago. I'll really miss her talent for appreciating. It taught me something about God. We haven't much to offer, but whatever it is, loaves and fishes, time, concern for others - radishes, he'll take it, appreciate it and perhaps use it in ways we never dreamed of. So exciting!