There is an old country song that I like to hear, it’s John Denver singing, ” Two Things That Money Can’t Buy, True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes”, a person can consider themselves Blessed if they ever have either one. Lately I have taken to leaving the garden with a fat, red tomato in hand, heading for the kitchen and lunch. I can’t think of a faster or easier lunch than a tomato sandwich, the tomato still warm from the Sun. People have fooled around with them for years trying to improve what can’t be made better. The simplicity is part of the joy. Two pieces of white sandwich bread, best on Sunbeam if you have it, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Cut a thick slice from the middle of your tomato, slap some mayonnaise on the bread, position the tomato in the center, salt and pepper to taste, put on the lid. Holding it carefully between two hands, carry it to the back porch and eat it thoughtfully as you survey the coming afternoon. Your first homegrown tomato sandwich will be the very best one of the year, you’ll tell the neighbors about it, casually bring it up at the grocery store while standing in line, let the lady where you buy your books in on it. Oh, yes, it’s called bragging, but it is also a fact that wants to be known.
You can’t buy a homegrown tomato, you might can purchase one raised by someone else, but your own takes a certain amount of planning and yes, work. When you set that baby plant in the ground, you are already planning that sandwich. This is called delayed gratification, you are going to have to wait for it. The love and care you lavish on that plant will be your reward later, that delicious sweet tanginess in your mouth could be called gratitude, you’re so glad you did just this one little thing, you planted that plant. Towards the end of Summer you will most likely grow a little tired of them, the first twenty or so will take the edge off your craving, and it’s time to either start freezing or canning for the winter soups and sauces. First loves and tomato sandwiches have several things in common. There is excitement, sweetness, and anticipation of something marvelous about to happen. You know it won’t last forever but you don’t care, it’s what you want and you want it now, all the goodness, all the joy, all messiness that comes with both. You know there will be other loves, and other sandwiches but not now, not right now, this is the one you’ve been waiting for, the one they sing songs about. Well, I’ve only heard one song about homegrown tomatoes, but you get my drift. There is certainly one thing that is a major difference, while you have to work for the tomato, true love can only be a gift. You can’t make it happen, you can’t work hard enough to make it bloom, you can’t take it by force or manipulation. It is a Gift, sweet and pure, given by God through another person, or perhaps through yourself. There is not enough gold in the World to buy a First True Love and while the years may tarnish some memories and possessions grow old and photographs fade, that first love remains as a shining light in your heart. You can always grow another Homegrown Tomato, there will only be one First True Love.
There is another measure of True Love that I always remember: Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it doesn’t boast. It is not proud, it doesn’t dishonor others. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Corinthians 13: 4-8