Saturday, January 29, 2011

The journey begins - with soil yet to thaw, soon to till

I am not good at gardening - though I have been doing it for a few years. I have so much to learn about so many types of plants, planting, soil, harvesting.

My grandpa and grandma were good at gardening. They lived most of their life in harmony with seasons - even the very bitter seasons of cold, blizzards in North Dakota. Truth is, they lived every season of every year of their life in North Dakota.

In the years before Grandpa died, in his early 90's, we took some time to have him tell us stories of his life. I remember well some of the stories he narrated that described very tough living conditions in the early 1900's in the barren - but fertile - farmland of North Dakota. In his stories, he narrated the need to plan for every season. He narrated the hard work of seed-time and harvest. He narrated, too, times of rest, wonder, laughter, pause and worship. And, in the hard winter tales that he described - he noted how the harvest seasons provided real edible produce for the bleak, bristly, blizzards that came in winter. (Pictured here is a North Dakota field in mid-winter - which certainly doesn't give the appearance that it will produce much - in mid-winter - but in due time, with the right care, the seasons Spring forth!)

("A lonely fence post, and a whole lotta farm field. Photographed in Northern Towner County, ND on a sunny winter afternoon." - photo by im pastor rick.)

It is mid-winter as I write this. In the next 48-72 hours, meteorologists are forecasting the worst winter weather storm for this season - single digit temperatures, wind, snow and ice. And, in the midst of it, I am thinking about Spring, Summer and the Fall.

I do not make New Years Resolutions, but I always look to the future and ponder God's purpose for my future. I am always planning ahead. But, I am a frenzied, frantic planner - an over-planner. I start too many projects and do too many things. I usually finish well - and do not have any major failures in my life's journey - but, I don't sabbath well. I don't allow for fallow time well. I don't rest easily. (I can assure you. I type this at 1:04 a.m. as my family has long been asleep! I don't rest well.)

But as I think about these collections of thoughts, I recall that I need to be a better gardener in life. Like my grandparents, I need to discern seasons better and understand the routines of life - the embedded patterns of seasons like Summer and Winter, Springtime and Harvest - yes - but even more than that. I need to understand better the seasons of human effort and Divine Surprise. I need to understand better what it means for me to plant and do my part - but also to be patient and trust others - and God - to bring about the provisions of the harvest.

I don't sabbath well. I do too much. I try too much.

And, as I enter what some would call my middle ages - (not there yet - but it is coming) I wonder how prepared I am for the Winter of my own life. And I wonder if I wouldn't do better to plan every year around personal and professional times of intentional seeding, working, harvesting, and rest. A kind of gardener's journey to life's personal and professional seasons.

I wonder if I would do better to worker harder at times, but rest more diligently in other times.

I wonder if I have more insight to learn from the lessons of my Grandparents lives - and from their farming - and gardening.

No. The truth is I don't wonder about it. I know it.

I know I have more to learn about rest, about seasons of life, about Sabbath - and what it means to be renewed for the vitality of new Spring seasons every year.


In this next year, I get to intentionally think about - and try to live out - these ideas with family, and a few dear friends, intentionally.

May God bless the harvest of what we now only begin to think about tilling, planting, and harvesting - in the midst of this winter season, looking ahead to reflections through the next season of this year - and seasons of our lives.

posted by marty alan michelson.