Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tending the Garden of the Soul

I am not a gardener. I do not have a green thumb. My Mum was an avid gardener, she would spend hours digging, weeding, planting, mulching and whatever else you do to a garden. She had rosebushes scheduled to bloom throughout the summer, I never really realized that until she pointed it out to me. How she achieved that I have no idea, but I have many memories of looking out the windows into the back garden to see mum in her gardening gloves hunched over the ground knees resting on her foam flowery kneeler rooting through soil.

Mum knew that different seasons of the year meant different jobs to be done.
The tasks of Autumn are very different to the tasks of Spring, do the wrong job at the wrong time and nothing blooms, in fact, you can even harm the garden by pruning when you should be feeding or sowing when you should be reaping. Every Season makes its own demands on the Gardener and every plant needs its own special care.

I was in a discussion this morning on Spiritual Disciplines. We talked about what Disciplines we should take up for the season of Lent. It is so easy for groups like this to covenant to all do similar things. I remember when I first started interning at the Wesley Foundation in Lubbock, all the interns decided we would meet together an hour earlier than work started so that we could worship and pray together...I think we managed about 2 weeks before the agreement fell apart. It wasn't that we weren't committed, it was just that we were trying a 'one size fits all' approach to Spiritual Formation. Those of you who have seen me in the morning know that I am only partially human until I've shaved, showered and had a cup of tea and gotten to at least 9am. I am not one of those bright shiny happy morning people - in fact I usually want to do bodily harm to people who are perky at 7am!

What was great about this morning was we first asked 'What Season am I in?' The answer to that question became the lens through which we decided what Disciplines to take on for Lent.

My answer to that question was 'It's the depth of winter and I'm beginning to get cabin fever from being snowed up so long.'

All of the Seasons are necessary for growth. I've had some experiences in the last week that hint at the coming of Spring, but I'm not quite there yet. If I try and take on the Disciplines of Spring I will fail, get discouraged and feel guilty (one of my favorite emotions SIGH). If I try to impose my winter disciplines on my friend who is experiencing Spring then he will feel held back, restricted and frustrated where he wants to be bursting with new life.

My aim is to be intentional this Lent about tending the garden of my soul, but to do it with respect for the garden itself, not forcing it into activities that I think would be beneficial but would actually be harmful.

What Season are you in right now? What actions do you need to take to tend the garden of your soul? Should you be planting, pruning, resting?


JWebb said...

This is absolutely spot on!! So very well said, so very well done. I hope your post is read my many!

cjc said...

Excellent, Peter! Thanks, Jerry. You two guys are really good at what it is you do : )