Every year about this time, one can hear a murmur across our neighborhood that is almost like a religious chant: "This year I will plant a beautiful garden. This year I will grow a beautiful garden. This year I will harvest a beautiful garden."

From the time of my first pitiful garden, I have hearkened to this yearly garden mantra. And each year despite my dismal failures of the previous year, I determine once again, "This year my garden will produce ... something."

But every year it is the same. The harvest from my garden is at best sporadic. I have a few peas by early July — the sun scorches the rest. We harvest green tomatoes in September, but by then the quail have helped themselves to everything else remotely green. And I rely on charitable or desperate neighbors for my zucchini supply.

It occurred to me that many aspects of life are like my attempts at gardening. Each year I hear myself say, "This year I will get my year's supply of food storage. This year we will have family scripture study and more meaningful family home evenings. This year I will exercise three times a week. This year I will organize my home. This year I will attend the temple regularly. This year we will be to church on time with everyone wearing appropriate footwear."

But there is not room enough in my "garden" for endless varieties of "plants." So I try to find the secret of a well-cultivated life. I read books by the experts and buy the latest tools in home management. I talk with friends who share my desires and frustrations. I look at my neighbor and his five mature children flourishing on their own and wonder how he and his wife did it.

I suppose if President Monson saw me struggle with the small plot of earth life I tend, he would quote the words of his friend, President Gordon B. Hinckley: "I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure, I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know how. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass."

So I roll up my sleeves, don my work gloves and garden every season of my life. I keep planting tiny seeds and trust the law of the harvest. But I think real growth comes in quieter moments.

Each week as I take the sacrament, I look at my children — planted in the row beside me — and I drink the water. I say to myself, "This week I will grow patient as I serve them. This week I will cultivate my own gratitude for the Atonement. This week I will find quiet ways to plant my love of the Savior in their hearts."

Then the master of the harvest will turn my efforts into a "well of water springing up into everlasting life." And some day together we will harvest the sweet fruit that is "desirable above all other fruit."

Maria M. Price lives in Bountiful.