Music and the Spoken Word: Finding meaning in the unexpected

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Sept. 15, 2019.

We all know the law of the harvest: the fact that we tend to reap what we sow. And yet even when we sow carefully, we don’t always reap what we expected to.

Some time ago, a backyard gardener planted a small garden of fruit trees and vegetable plants. In the past, her harvest had been abundant and rich, enough to share with family, friends, and neighbors. But this year was different. All through the growing season, her plants struggled. Temperatures fluctuated, insects invaded, birds raided, and squirrels sneaked in. Everything seemed to combine against her little garden. Despite her hard work and every effort, the gardener did not reap much and sometimes felt like giving up.

But was her garden really a failure? No, the expected harvest didn’t happen. But looking back, the gardener now recognizes an unexpected harvest that came from that year’s garden — and it didn’t just happen at the end of the growing season. Her garden was a spiritual refuge for her, a place of peace, and a haven of healing. There in the rain and soil and sunshine, she felt a little closer to heaven, and even inspiration seemed to come to her mind and heart more freely. Pruning and weeding brought insights about dealing with the difficulties and challenges in her life. While nurturing plants, she also nurtured her soul. Maybe the value of this harvest could not be accurately measured in strawberries and squash, in corn and cucumbers, but in the satisfaction of the soul, in the peace and healing and happiness that came as she labored in her garden. 

Sometimes the harvest is not what we expect. Even when we’re trying to grow food, what we’re really growing is ourselves — our understanding, our perspective, our character. That’s true no matter our field of endeavor. The effort is more important than the outcome. If success were guaranteed, if the outcome were somehow decided in advance, the lessons learned may not be as rewarding. But when we dig deep enough, when we open our heart to the effort, we can come to see the abundance and richness of an unexpected harvest.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir’s website and YouTube channel. The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at