My urban garden is in its third week of life, and I’m already learning a lot about both gardening and spirituality.
Of course, as an inexperienced and unskilled gardener (thanks be to God I have skills in other areas), I stand to learn a great deal.
Nonetheless, here’s what I’ve learned about gardening:
- Water enough, but not too much. More is not necessarily better when it comes to plants.
- The same applies to sunshine. The sun is great, but for brand new plantlings [my term], too much sun too fast can scorch the leaves and kill the plant, even if it has plenty of water.
- It’s survival of the fittest, in the sense that the seedlings must be thinned out after they sprout. If they’re too crowded, none of them will do well. Better to pluck some (sniff) and allow the others to get strong and vital than try to save them all.
- I despise thinning plants, even though I know that, in the end, it’s good for them. I’m way too sympathetic toward the struggling weaklings.
- Turning the pots a quarter turn every couple of days helps them grow more evenly, because they’ll get an even dose of morning, aftgernoon, and evening sun. [Okay, I made that up. I do it because I’m impatient and can’t leave the poor things alone.]
- This stuff takes patience. Which I don’t have.
To a master gardener, all of this is common knowledge. Since, I’ve not a speck of green on either of my thumbs, this is all way cool to experience and learn.
But, it’s what I’ve learn about my relationship with God that’s even way cool-er.
- I’m learning to let God be in control. There’s only so much I can do to make my plants grow; how well they do is ultimately up to God. That’s true for just about everything in my life, and so turning my urban garden over to God is a dress rehearsal for the rest of my life.
- Quick growth isn’t always the strongest growth. Take the seedlings, for example. They might sprout up fast, but if they don’t have enough sun and nutrition, they’ll be long, stringy, and unproductive. It’s the same for my spirituality. I can pile on apostolates, devotions, and knowledge about the Catholic faith, but if I go too fast and don’t internalize it, then it’s all superficial – stringy, if you will – and unproductive. My marigold plant gives me constant reminder of this. The cotton-picking thing is taking forever to bloom, but the whole plant will be all the stronger for the wait and the blossom will be large and vibrant.
- Spirituality is best in community. When I originally planned out my urban garden, I envisioned it as a personal refuge – my personal refuge. Lo and behold, my husband, youngest son (who still lives at home), and even my daughter (when she visits) have taken to it. I have no doubt more folks will be attracted to it. At first I was a bit resentful, but I soon began to enjoy the company. It’s awesome to share the enjoyment, companionship, and the lessons I’m learning from my urban garden.
- I don’t need to be talking at God all the time. I knew this from Eucharistic Adoration, but it’s true also in my urban garden, albeit in a slightly different way (no Real Presence). He already knows my every thought, now it’s time for me to open myself to his every thought. So, I shut my mouth, sit back, and listen and take in whatever it is God has to say to me. Sometimes he says nothing, sometimes messages come through loud and clear, and sometimes I pick up on something by observing and working with the plants. It’s all good.