The Spiritual Life And Gardening

During my sabbatical, I have invited our Executive Pastor Caryn Bell-Palo to write this week’s HCC Blog.

Many of you know that I am an avid gardener. In the early months of spring, I find myself torn between wanting Winter to continue and desperately seeking warmer temperatures, longer hours of daylight, and the ability to add cheer through color all around the garden.

I often find parallels between life and gardening; spiritual life and gardening are everywhere. Here is what I have been mulling over recently. This is a quick pic of one of the garden spots in my yard. It captures perfectly the “in-between” season. Not yet finished with Winter, but hinting at the return of spring.

You can see that some of the early bulbs are green and healthy. Others are yellow and struggling. Here’s why. Each fall, like clockwork, we gather leaves from all the trees in our yard and cover all the beds for the winter season. It’s literally tucking in the fertile ground for a winter’s rest.

Throughout the Winter, and the timing varies, you will see the first markers of the coming season with bulbs beginning to send shoots through the leaves, seeking light to grow and bloom. Sometimes the blanket of leaves is so thick, heavy, wet, and mulching together that the shoots have a hard time poking through. Some shoots bend to the pressure, never get a chance at sunlight, staying yellow and underdeveloped.

It takes some time, but we hunt around the yard for signs of life trapped in the leaves. We scrape away the mulch and allow the previously stunted shoots to grow.

For me, the last few winter seasons have felt a bit heavy, like the blanket of leaves—heavy, decomposing, weighty. I am anxious to get beyond this season, see the light, and grow and bloom. But it’s been difficult at times to poke through. Covid, dissension, disagreement, anger, isolation, disappointment, hope, and hope cut short. I have found it hard to see the sun, gain nourishment, and think about actually thriving and blooming.

But then God…. While I find myself in this cycle of life, the anxious moments, the difficulty of pushing past the blanket of leaves, I believe that God sees something different. I believe that God sees and knows where we are at, where we are sprouting, just a hint below the blanket we have been under for a season.

I believe He uncovers slowly, in his light, the path to move ahead. In this new season, full of apprehension, hope, anxiousness, weariness, and a bit of giddy expectation…I am beginning to see a way forward. Are you ready to poke your head out, uncover and re-engage? I hope so; I get it. There is so much growing and blooming ahead. 
As He promises in Lamentations 3, God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.