What I Learned From Weeding a Garden


Yesterday, I got to do something that I’d been looking forward to.

I had, for weeks, since re-joining my church, wanted to get busy in our community garden. It is a really great project. Half of the garden is planted and tended by the local Haitian community for their own use. Half is divided up into patches for members to use.

My priest, Jan, is super busy, and needed help with her garden patch. Life got in the way, then weather, but finally, yesterday, I got the opportunity to get out there in the cool weather, just right for weeding.

It had been a rough weekend for me, so I was hoping weeding would be therapuetic as well as helpful for Jan. I first started by standing, and pulling weeds that were tall as me, some taller, but then I found that it was easier to sit and pull the roots from the ground. Ultimately, I found tomatoes!! Lots of them. Towards the end of the time, I also found potatoes that had been forgotten from the year before and grew new plants this year.

As I worked, wresting tough weeds from the ground, I also prayed. I knew that a lot of conversation with God was going to be the only way to get through a weekend of panic attacks, something that occasionally happens to me. My priority was to be totally free of them by the time Monday and work rolled around.

As I worked, God calmed my spirit, and that evening, after prayer online with a friend from Scotland, the panic attacks were no more. I was able to reason through how I had made non-existent problems into huge mountains. But that reasoning started in the garden.

Like I said, some of the weeds were taller than me. To look at them, it could be quite daunting. However, most of the weeds easily pulled up. The few which didn’t took losening of actual roots at the base of the plant, but ultimately they came up too.

Applications…many. No matter what the problem before us, how we perceive it can be everything. If I had looked at the garden patch, let myself be overwhelmed, and walked away, it would have still been in the condition it was when I started. But starting somewhere, and doing something got the work done.

Starting somewhere…..I started at the edge of the patch and worked inward. The ‘type A’ in me wanted to surprise Jan by getting the whole thing done by the time she and Ken got back from Northern Kentucky, but ultimately common sense and a sore back argued louder. With any project or endeavor…starting is the first thing…and reasonable goals follow. I might have looked at my ‘weed by weed’ goal as unrealistic, and quit. However, weed by weed was how progress was made.

I was reminded of the parable of the wheat and tares as I tended the ground. Sometimes, when I see what I perceive to be injustice, I want God to rush in, Old Testament style and really let the ‘bad guys’ have it. Not wait for karma to catch up…I want justification then. And sometimes God does work that way. But most times, I think God works through situations and makes the involved parties take deep breaths. Make peace if they can. Maybe even have both realise that they both contributed to the wrong. In some cases, he lets evil and good grow alongside each other for a season. And ultimately, who am I to judge?

I also considered how beautifully God thought of everything in creation. I am not sure if you (reader) believe in a literal 7 day creation or the more extensive one that science points to, or something in between. I tend to go with the thought that God is God, and however he did it, I’m okay with it. Especially the amazing variety of things he created. Like tomatoes that not only feed me and my work friends with whom I shared today, but also the beetles that were feeding on the over-ripe vegetables. Then you look at the potatoes…forgotten last year, decomposing into the earth, and becoming their own seeds. Amazing. Really, God thinks of everything. And if he thinks of simple things like that, then how difficult are my problems?

Lastly (but not the last of the insights given) there is a time to stop. I wanted to surprise Jan and Ken with a perfectly weeded garden. Wanted to. But three hours into it, my body said “Okay, time to head home.” Not so long ago, I would have driven myself well past exhaustion to finish some unrealistic goal I’d set. Sunday, I was able to stand, up, stretch, gather the veggies I’d harvested, put Jan and Ken’s portion on the table, and put the rest in my car. There is time to start a project, but there is also time to end projects. And both times are blessed.

Today, a new lesson—gardening is great exercise!!! I have muscles hurting today that I don’t think I knew that I had…and a bit of a sunburn. But you know, I feel blessed. Getting busy in God’s creation had a number of benefits. It gave my hands something to do, and gave me a chance to open my heart to the creator.

Mostly, it made me realise that even as God had perfectly planned everything growing in the garden, right down to the weeds, so he also had everything perfectly planned for me. No need to make up self-induced nightmares of the future. No need to worry about things that I have no control of. Plenty of reason to rejoice to a God who is definitely and ultimately in control.

 

Amen.

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One Hour with Jesus


This takes about an hour, and can really take place anywhere….by a lake, in a quiet garden, wherever you feel like you will be undisturbed while you go through the process.

Suggested (not necessary)

Book of Common Prayer

Journal or notebook

Pen or pencil

Bible

1. Start out with a Psalm and read it out loud or if reciting from memory, speak it out loud. As you read/speak, think about the meaning of the words individually and together and how they might welcome you into God’s prescence.

2. Confession—For me, there has to be an empty space to welcome something in. Better to empty my soul of the acculative junk of the past day, week or even few minutes. Bring sinfulness as a love offering to lay at the feet of the One who redeems all brokenness.

3. Offering of Brokenness–I saw a dead bush beside me. It reminded me of how I had let my spirit become in the last few weeks, when I was more interested in chasing after the world than I was in chasing after the heart of God. At first I took pieces of the dead branches and place them in the bible where the psalm reading was. Then, on reflection, picked most of them up and held them up in front of me, and threw them up in the air….scattering my sin as far as the East is from the West–where it is as forgotten as it is in the mind of our Lord. (For those doing this process, it can be anything that is symbollic of giving up the part of yourself that you wish to lose).

4. Dedication–Expressing desire to value love by God more than love by mankind–request that this be my priority over the acceptance/love of every other living being in the world.

5. Confession–for me, this was not being sure how to live in the ‘now.’ I tend to be either past or future oriented, and need to learn more about what ‘right now’ is all about and enjoy that! For those doing the process….what is that you need to learn more about? What is holding you back spiritually right now?

 

6. Opening: This is a good place to use visualization or even a dance to express how you would like to open your soul further to God. Using one’s arms as if  reaching out for an embrace is good as well. I find that what the body does directly affects the soul. Show with your body what you want your soul to experience.

 

7. Confession of  things done/undone, prayer for those hard to love, for those who have hurt or harmed us (several places in the BCP that you can use prayers or make your own as comfortable.) Remember, you’re talking to your Daddy….let it all hang out!! He already knows anyway, he just wants you to love and trust Him enough to share your heart. As with every act of worship, the benefit is for US, not for Him.

 

8. Opening of Vunerablities: Where do you feel weak?  Where are your insecurities?  This is where you speak, write, sing, or do some concrete actions that expresses them to God. Ask God to take where you are weak and show His strength in your life.

 

9. Requests: What do you need from God? This is the place to ask God specifically and with boldness what you would like to have happen in your life. Ask for wisdom to know how to request good things from God. Ask for blessings on those who you love or are beginning to love, family, friends, coworkers or even the neighbor down the street.

 

10. Praise and Dedication: Find 10 things that you can praise God for. It can be specific as nature around you, a blessing in your life, the weather, or if you are having a bad day, that you woke up! Then dedicate the life you have been given to God to do with as He sees fit.