The Spirituality of Gardening [Christine Sine]

I’m taking a week away from the blog, and I’ve asked some of my friends to fill in for me. Today’s post is by Christine Sine. Christine is a physician and a spiritual director, and she and her husband, Tom, run Mustard Seed Associates. But Christine and I have really hit it off over our love of gardening. Snow is still thick here in Minnesota, but it’s time for me to order my seeds. Maybe like me, your mind has already turned to Spring. Christine’s has!

Its garden season here in the Pacific Northwest and my front porch is bulging with lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and other seedlings waiting to go in the ground. Next week I will start over a hundred tomato plants and the squash and peppers won’t be far behind. Like millions of others throughout the Western world, we have started growing our own vegetables and now provide around 40% of what we eat.

I have so enjoyed watching the growth of the community garden movement. Gardens have sprung up on vacant lots, in parking strips and behind church buildings. Congregations have enthusiastically embraced the need to grow produce, often to help provision food banks and ministries to the poor.

Unfortunately there is often a total disconnect between what happens in the garden and worship inside the building. Yet it seems to me that gardening is one of the most profound acts of worship we can engage in. God’s first act after completing creation was to plant a garden – the garden of Eden. And in the first sighting of Jesus after the resurrection he is mistaken by Mary Magdalene for the gardener because that is precisely what he is – the gardener of the new creation.

So much of our garden activity is performed kneeling, in the position of prayer and supplication. I kneel to weed, to plant and to harvest and in this position often find myself meditating and praying. If I am troubled by some seemingly insurmountable problem, there is no better place to thrash it out than on my knees in the garden. If I am irritable or depressed, there is no better therapy than weeding.

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Roxy on Advent

I’ve been working on an answer to Rob’s question about whether he’s a Christian or not. It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer — it’s personal, it affects a person, and I’m struggling with it. I’ve also had a trying day personally, so I have to put Rob’s question aside for the rest of today.

Instead, I offer you some thoughts from Roxy, with whom I traveled to Sri Lanka. She’s got some beautifully honest thoughts on not sleepwalking through Advent: [Read more...]

Benefit of the Doubt: A Christian Virtue

I’m not going to blog any more about what happened around here last week, at least not for a while. But this thought did occur to me over the weekend:

I nominate benefit of the doubt as a Christian virtue.

In this era in which the communication between those of us who’ve never personally met is increasing exponentially every year, we are more than ever confronted with the ideas and opinions of others. I submit the the Christian posture toward the other should always be the benefit of the doubt that the other has beneficent ends.

Whaddya say, can we commit to giving one another the benefit of the doubt?

Everyday Spirituality: Returning To Our Senses

 

Christine Sine’s Rocks

This post is part of an ongoing series on Everyday Spirituality. Today’s post is by Christine Sine, author, blogger, and executive director of Mustard Seed Associates. Her other books include To Garden with God and GodSpace. Her new book, Return to Our Senses will be released November 20th but is now available for pre-order. All proceeds from the book will go toward the work of Mustard Seed Associates.

A couple of years ago on my blog, I asked: What makes you feel close to God? Dozens of people responded with concrete illustrations about how they connect to God in everyday life. They talked about playing with kids, turning the compost pile, washing the dishes and walking in the local park. Even taking a shower got a mention. Their reflections became the blog series What Is A Spiritual Practice?  Two things surprised me. First, no one mentioned church or Bible study. Second, most people come closest to God in tangible everyday activities yet rarely identify these as spiritual practices or forms of prayer.

These observations started me on a journey to rediscover the nature and purpose of prayer. Starting with Madame Guyon’s assertion that prayer is an exercise in love, I started to discover prayer not as an activity I engage in but a relationship I enter into. My journey has opened windows into the loving nature of God far beyond my imaginings. It has exposed me to prayer traditions I never knew existed. It has encouraged me to create my own new and fresh expressions of prayer. It has also brought me together with a growing number of people who search for a more vital prayer life.

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