Thursday, October 19, 2017

Breathing Room

Every year I try to grow vegetables in our kitchen garden.   We amend the soil with compost and clear it of weeds and remove the rocks and oh gosh, there just seems to be so much SPACE when it's all empty and bare in April. Clearly I can plant unlimited quantities of all the things.  "Oh yes, we shall have the harvest to end all harvests this year, dear husband."

Plant 2-3 seeds spaced 36 inches apart.  Thin seedlings to one plant per spot once first true leaves have developed.

36 inches apart???  THIN THE SEEDLINGS?? Why would I give up my chance at the harvest to end all harvests by waaaaaaaaasting all that precious space? Nope, nope. I mean, look at how tiny these little seeds are.  They barely take up any space at all.  The more the merrier, I say. I can double the output of this bit of earth, believe you me.

So I cram 5 or 6 zucchini seeds together 24 inches apart and then I thin to 2 or 3. Maybe.  Thinning just seems so wasteful.  Then the leaves get huge and they shade their neighboring plants.  And we get a squash bug infestation.  And the plants are so crammed together by July that I can't even disentangle the stems enough to reach my precious harvest, what little hasn't been eaten by the squash bugs or rotted by the overly most soil created by the jungle-like canopy of enormous leaves.  And I wonder: what went so horribly wrong?  I did all the good things, just MORE of them. More is better. Shouldn't I have more to show for my efforts?  My not wasting of a single inch of space?  Why is it all disaster and mayhem despite my good intentions?  ( . ahem).

But this year I took a deep breath.  Read the instructions. Forced myself to thin even when every fiber of my being said "there is definitely so a lot of space.  PLENTY. Do more and you can HAVE more." And I told myself to be patient.  Just wait and see. And of course...I don't need to finish this story.

We do this, don't we? Make a plan, lay a lovely foundation, have the most excellent intentions.  We are going to have some amazing personal and physical and spiritual growth, amenhallelujah, yes yes yes.  We are going to do *all the things.* We are going to fill up every inch of free space in our lives with reading things and praying things and following spiritual disciplines and receiving all the sacraments, like, probably multiple times per day, striving to make ourselves holy or good or successful by virtue of our own v v v v v v v abundant efforts. "The more the better! Discipline and plans and doing something excellent for all the minutes of the day!"

And then of course every effort suffers. Our prayers are rushed. We don't remember what we read. We're crabby because we're sleep deprived because we had to stay up late to pray those six different novenas we've got going on. SHOW ME THE HARVEST, LORD!


Okay, I hear you, Jesus.

Maybe instead we can just follow the instructions.  Leave enough space.  Do our work, yes, but trust in the Lord to do His.We don't make plants grow. We don't make our spiritual lives grow.  Surely we must participate.  We must give God our Yes (gosh He sure does love our free will, doesn't He?), but let's not cram our efforts in, take the reins, be the boss of that mess, and then watch the measly fruits shrivel and die. Maybe we can step back, allow a little breathing room, and give God the space to do His work.

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  1. Welcome back! Lovely post, even though I am a rotten gardener who could never follow the directions and only succeeds with petunias. Maybe I'll do better in my spiritual garden.

  2. Oh how I missed you! Thank you for this!

  3. Oh, my. Did you write this just for me? Because I might have just been sobbing and sending my husband texts like, "Why am I sitting here crying like a baby? I don't even do that when I'm pregnant." So while checking my email as a distraction, here you are! Saying exactly what I forgot to remember. Thank you!

  4. Thank you so much!!! I really needed this reminder today! Glad to see you back in this space.

  5. I love how you connected faith + gardening. I am sooooooooo bad at following gardening instructions. But you'd think with all the plants I've killed because of that, maybe I would have learned this by now. But LOL, nope. Definitely a work in progress.

  6. Most excellent post. Love the gardening --> spiritual application! So true. Thank you, Dwija!

  7. Hi, I've just finished reading your blog. It's fascinating, thank you.


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