Monday, May 25, 2009

the hopeful gardener

“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.” (John 15:1)

I have been thinking about this image from the gospel of John as I have prepared my own garden for planting this Spring. For twenty five years I have attempted to coax a harvest out of the stubborn clay soil in our backyard. The compost and manure we added over the years helped to enrich the soil but the annual harvest was always disappointing. So this year I decided to dig, build, and create raised beds for our vegetable garden.

This has turned out to be a very labor intensive project. First step was to remove the sod from an area measuring four by twelve feet. This is accomplished by forcing a spade into the dry, resistant, and stubborn clay dirt and removing 12” by 12” squares. These forlorn looking chunks are placed beside what will become the planting bed. Step two is to use a garden fork to loosen the dirt and break up the clods that are in the 4’ by 12’ bed. Then I place around the bed the frame that I have constructed from 2” by 8” lumber. Now it is time to return the sod I had earlier dug out by placing them grass side down in the bed so that the grass and sod will decompose in the earth. This is followed by using the garden fork to break up the sod as much as possible. Then a 1” layer of compost is laid down and followed by a 4 to 5 inch layer of good top soil. Finally, the soil is ready for the seeds and seedlings to be planted in the three raised garden beds we built this week. Yes, I have repeated this process three times. This brings us back to the Apostle John’s image of God as the gardener. How persistent and patient God must be with us as he prepares us for the seed of his gracious and compassionate Word. I know that the soil of my heart and mind can be as dry and unyielding as the clay in our yard. Yet God continues to work in my life and yours….digging out that which prohibits us from growth, breaking down our resistance, adding those ingredients that nourish and sustain us through all the seasons of life. Gardening reminds me that spiritual growth is a process. A process that takes time and preparation and patience.
Now the seeds and seedlings have been placed lovingly and hopefully in their new beds; not to sleep but to awaken and grow. They are in a place where they will receive 10 to 12 hours of sun a day, when it is not to cloudy. So…if I remember to water every day…and the rabbits don’t eat everything….and the weeds don’t get ahead of me………..
Spirit of the Living God, be the Gardener of my soul. For so long I have been waiting, silent and still-experiencing a winter of the soul. But now, in the strong name of Jesus Christ, I dare to ask:
Clear away the dead growth of the past. Break up the hard clods of custom and routine. Stir in the rich compost of vision and challenge. Bury deep in my soul the implanted Word. Cultivate and water and tend my heart. Until new life buds and opens and flowers. Amen!
(from Prayers of the Heart by Richard J. Foster)


Stewart said...

It can't work in actual fact, that's what I think.
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