I am not a gardener, in fact some have suggested I have at least one black thumb. I enjoy walking around a beautiful garden or greenhouse with the colourful flowers but I don’t enjoy, nor am I very good at the work that goes into cultivating such a garden. I often can’t tell the difference between the weeds and flowers. So when I arrived and heard about what amazing gardeners Father Dan and Athena were and saw the work Sandra has put into the making the church gardens so beautiful it was a bit daunting. One of the things that I have learned is that gardens take work, even when planted with perennials. Left to their own devices, the weeds take over and then even the “good” plants like the Hosta get cramped as the weeds continue to multiply.
Looking at the gardens recently got me thinking about how gardens and gardening parallel our spiritual lives in so many ways. Is it any wonder that Jesus used agricultural images in his stories about the kingdom of God, from the different soil types, the weeds and the wheat, the mustard seed (Matthew 13), and the farmer scattering seed (Mark 4:26-29) to name a few.
We need deep roots to sustain our spiritual lives. These roots do not suddenly appear overnight, but take years to grow and develop. Spiritual roots like prayer, reading God’s Word the Bible, and being part of a Community of Believers give us the ability to withstand times of drought when we wonder where is God in the midst of all challenges that life throws at us and roots that help us to flourish and thrive and produce beautiful fruit in our lives. Our roots of Prayer and Word and Community are essential to our spiritual growth and flourishing. When we develop these deep roots amazing things can flourish and bloom in our lives.
On the other hand, the roots of weeds, often impede our growth and development as followers of Jesus, even taking over our lives and choking out what is good in our lives. We can pull the weeds but unless we also pull out the roots too, which can be hard, we will continue to struggle to flourish. The weeds and their roots steal the good things we need, our time and energy, and can even undercut our roots. In our Spiritual lives, we need to recognize the weeds, the things that steal the nutrients and choke out our growth, that draw us away from God and all God has for us. Once we recognize these weeds, especially competing priorities, we can seek to remove them from our lives.
Whether it is tending and nourishing the good things in our lives or trying to weed out that which draws us away from God, spiritual gardening is as challenging as actual gardening. May this summer be for each of you a time to relax and enjoy your summer pastimes, reflecting on your Spiritual life and drawing closer to Jesus, the true and living vine, deepening your roots and flourishing in the love of God.