Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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A Carefully Edited Pumpkin

July 17, 2020

Jordan Durbin


In another life, I think I would like to have been an editor.  I find a slightly disturbing amount of joy in removing things that don’t belong or are overly weighty.  But I’m also too emotional to really be effective in that role, and I deeply love adjectives.  By the end of this piece, you will no doubt have guessed that!

 I don’t know what all the habits of highly effective people are, but I know that editing is one of my most valuable weapons.  In the war against physical, emotional, and spiritual clutter, carefully choosing what stays and what goes is paramount.  It is such a necessary and useful tool that entire television series have been spawned by its wielding.  It is a form of control that removes distractions and parasites, creating space for the valued thing to grow to its fullest potential.


Choose Your Squashes Wisely

This summer, I’m hoping to teach not only my little herd of children but also quite a few others the value and beauty that comes from editing.  In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, she writes of Almanzo’s success growing a milk-fed pumpkin.  As a young girl, I remember being enchanted by the idea of a plant drinking up milk, and the great orange globe ballooning up larger and larger.  I even tried it once, but I don’t think my method was quite right.  My pumpkin grew, but not to particularly enormous conditions.  I was okay with it.  I love growing pumpkins, anyway.

A month or so ago, I issued the Great Pumpkin Challenge 2020 on my Instagram feed.  I hope to inspire a new generation to learn the fine art of growing squashes of any size or shape, although I’m the most excited about our own Mammoth Gold variety.  To grow an especially large pumpkin, one must start with a variety that has been bred to be, well, a large pumpkin.  My own giant pumpkin success stands on the shoulders of many generations of pumpkin editors.  Garden seed breeders are control freaks!  They carefully select particular traits from a field of test plants, often hand pollinating and removing any less than ideal specimens and leaving nothing to chance!  The following year, they will perform the same vigilant procedures again and again and again. Those gardeners amaze me!

Our large pumpkins will rely heavily on our own editing skills.  First the seedlings will be reduced from the two that we planted to one healthiest, strongest plant.  Then we will remove all but one healthiest, strongest vine.  Next we will choose one single fruit, and all the others will be pinched and discarded.  It sounds cruel, but it must be done.  It is a study in focus.  We are focusing on the goal of one large pumpkin, and we want the plant to direct all its energies on the growing of only one thing.  We don’t want it to be distracted by trying to multitask.


Throwing Off Weights

This practice of removing and clearing space for things to grow is an ancient one, and it is good!  God knew in the very beginning that things need boundaries and order to be beautiful and right.  This is part of why He separates day and night, waters and dry land, fish from birds from land animals.  I think it is also at the heart of one of my favorite verses,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  – Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Do you ever wonder about those weights?  They aren’t sin, since that is listed separately.  I think they’re diversions, things that are not really bad but are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. They’re extra pumpkin vines.  When you’re in the race, you can’t be trying to knit a scarf or fix a motorcycle engine at the same time. Many of us have felt the extra weight of distractions in our lives lately.  They can be sneaky things, creeping into corners of our lives from media devices and seemingly urgent moments that form unnecessary habits.  It’s always a good time to be wary and also remember that pumpkin growing season doesn’t last forever.  Keep your eyes and hearts focused on the goal that Christ has set.  It promises to be a great, golden finish.

The beautiful featured illustration is done by Jordan Durbin and used with her permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.


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  1. Adam R. Nettesheim says:

    This is wonderful Jordan! Ho-boy do I need to lean into this advice! Editing is NOT my strength! Thank you.

  2. Jordan Durbin says:

    Thanks so much! I’m so glad it whispered squashy things to you!

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