My tiny, tended plot of land, my garden, has become to me a gentle counselor, a place where God’s voice jumps out of the soil straight into my soul.
Of course, I never expect it to happen, but I’m always surprised at how many times a daily stroll around my yard can turn into twenty minutes of honesty and reflection about what’s really going on inside me.
Inevitably, I meet up with Frustration and Anger when I see my freshly sprouted seedlings have been mowed down by a hungry bunny…AGAIN! My diligent work of planting and watering feels totally wasted. I retaliate with rabbit repellent and install more wire, yet another attempt to protect them from any further damage.
Creating beauty takes a series of risks that I’m never entirely prepared for.
We have to give ourselves unreservedly like one who scatters seed, “throwing it around freely and wildly without paying attention to where every little seed might fall.” Control, keeping track of every little seed, yes this is my modus operandi.
The thought of letting what I create get stepped on, eaten, or destroyed is usually too much to bear. So, I hesitate to release the seeds to the winds of His Spirit, I don’t go, I don’t move, I don’t give.
I want the assurance ahead of time that I will see the results of my labors and know firsthand the impact I have made.
All the while, my humble garden reveals how we cannot force life to be predictable. The miracle flourishes, joy and beauty spring forth, only in the spaces where we willingly let go of the outcome.
Then, I noticed the obvious wild growth of my strawberry plants. Long, thin runners shooting out from every direction; they have multiplied themselves more than I count. Oddly enough, they only produced a handful of tiny fruit this month. Maybe ten actual edible berries. It dawns on me that I should have purposefully kept them snipped back. In the evening, I grab my clippers and begin the work of pulling out some of the newly rooted strawberry plants and unraveling the excessive, sticky, spindly vines from my other flowers.
While my hands thinned out the strawberry patch, I knew I needed to be unwound and pruned back in places too. I am too quick to praise growth. What am I to make of the phrase I keep hearing, deliberate slowness. To stop sending out shoots and reaching out for more, and instead focus on what is already happening in front of me and within me feels counter-intuitive.
Size and spread and speed will always look more impressive than staying small or growing slow.
My strawberries thank me. This year, their inability to stop the crazy growth hijacked their juicy, red fruit. All their time and energy sacrificed on the altar of the appearance of health, lush green leaves and making more plants.
With every clip to my strawberries, I release the dangerous runners in my own heart. They are the visible proof of my ever-expanding fears to build, to grow, and to bud gradually.
Intentionally caring for and staying in this present season is unsatisfying in a world that idolizes progress and achievement. But this time next year, you can bet I’ll have delicious red juice all over my face.
Enduring the temporary discomfort of withheld growth and aggressive pruning will be worth it, I repeat to myself, as I throw the last vine into the compost pile.
The video on pinching my plants sent me out nervously into my garden this week. I purposefully avoided watching it because I knew it probably meant one thing…more waiting.
The expert gardener told me the secret to getting longer stems and double the amount of blooms on my annuals, but it didn’t come without pain. I had to force myself to do what didn’t make sense, lob off the first buds, the sturdy middle stem of my cosmos, dahlias, and zinnias, all of which were already starting to produce a tiny, visible flower. This in turn, she promised me, would spark new growth from the base of the plant. I hope this works, I said holding the tiny, now dead, buds in my hand. I kept repeating to myself the word I heard her say every other sentence in the video, the reward, the reward, the reward.
I knew it was true. How many times, I thought, do I settle for the cheap rewards, mediocre encounters with God, or the world’s accolades and success?
Eternal rewards, though, cannot be contained, they are overflowing and dripping with too much life. But I remain timid- content with what I’ve always known.
Our impatience in the valleys, our lack of God-given vision and Spirit-breathed dreams keeps us settled in the city of sameness. Our eyes untrained to see the treasure that awaits us on the other side. I’d rather hurry up and rush the process than linger with God, learning to lean into His presence.
Today, I feel Him lobbing off the good in my life not to harm me, but to heap on the immeasurable rewards. Bouquets of God’s goodness await those who aren’t afraid to surrender their core, the very center of who they are into His loving hands.
My garden holds some secrets and unearthing them everyday has become a delight.