Gardening: a Spiritual Practice?

Gardening: a Spiritual Practice?

I have come to believe that most everything is infused with the sacredness of God. God speaks in our daily lives, in ordinary ways, in ordinary things and ordinary time. If God didn’t speak into our ordinary days, where would we hear His voice? God is present everywhere and as the Holy Spirit indwells within us, God’s voice is there speaking, if we are able to hear what he is saying to us. God also speaks in extraordinary ways, surprising us anew.

In gardening, it is crucial to pick the weeds that grow alongside the plants; otherwise they choke the plants and prevent them from growing. In our lives, we also have clutter, ugly voices, noise, and baggage that prevent us from hearing God’s voice. As we clear space in our lives, as we let go of the clutter, noise and baggage, we can make space for the Holy Spirit. As we make space, we realize we can also hear a little more clearly the loving voice that is always speaking into our messy lives. As I weed my garden, I invite God to help me clear away my own weeds, baggage and clutter in my life and mind—clearing space for that which is Holy.

As we clear space for the Holy One, we can realize that we ourselves are called to be holy, to be a chosen and royal priesthood. Frederick Buechner, in his essay “Growing Up” in the book The Clown and the Belfry, says:

HOLY. That is what we are going to be if God gets his way with us. It is wildly unreasonable because it makes a shambles out of our reasonable ambitions to be this or to be that. It is not really a human possibility at all because holiness is Godness and only God makes holiness possible. But being holy is what growing up in in the full sense means, Peter suggests… who knew more about darkness than most of us if you stop to think about it, and had looked into the very face itself of Light. We are called to have faces like that—to be filled with light so that we can be bearers of light…Light-bearers. Life-bearers.

Our intent can be to be made Holy in the face of God even if we fail and stumble and fall—grace is always there for a second chance at this journey of life where we can be light-bearers and life-bearers to the world.

Gardens take tilling and preparing the soil, watering, planting, more watering, weeding, more watering and more weeding. This is the realization that we plant, tend, weed, water but ultimately God does the rest, he grows the plants. In the end, it is not our strength or in our power to make the garden grow. God, in his sovereignty, grows the plants. This has been the biggest learning for me this summer: that in the end, God is in control. We can only do what is in our control and power, such as weeding out the garbage in our own lives, hearts and souls, and we can nurture our souls with good things such as prayer, reading the Word of God, making empowering and supportive friends, eating right and exercising. We can tend our souls, but ultimately, God is in control, He is the one who matures us, helps us grow spiritually. In the end, we must let go of our lives, our control that we hold with fists tightly clenched, our own power, so that God in his Sovereign power can grow us and give us what no one else can, especially what we cannot give to ourselves: Holiness, Grace, Strength, Healing, Forgiveness, Restoration, Reconciliation and Love.

This summer, as God encountered me through a steady, ordinary way of speaking, I felt like it was rare treasure I had grasped. Buechner states this well in the essay, “The Clown and the Belfry.” He says,

Most of the time we forget to notice this place where we live—because we’re so used to it, because we get so caught up in whatever our work is, whatever our lives are—but every once and so often maybe we notice and are filled. ‘He restoreth my soul,’ is the way the psalm says it. For a little while the scales fall from our eyes and we actually see the beauty and holiness and mystery of the world around us, and then from deeper down even than our hunger, restoring comes, nourishment comes. You can’t make it happen. You can’t make it last. But it is a glimpse, a whisper. Maybe it is all we can handle.

I noticed the world around me as I was gardening. It was in the mindfully paying attention and noticing that God can speak and show up and transform our lives as the Holy One gives us a glimpse of His Holiness. God speaks; are we listening? Gardening, truly, can be a spiritual practice if it can help keep the eyes of our hearts tuned into our world and, in that way, tuned into the Holy One who so desperately wants to speak truth into our daily lives. May we learn to pay attention to God in our daily lives, for it is there that we can be transformed.

One Response to Gardening: a Spiritual Practice?

  1. Scott says:

    Aisha, thank you for this thoughtful and relevant reflection. I appreciate the parallels you draw between weeding and tending a garden with de-cluttering our own lives and being open to stillness. You’ve given me something profound to contemplate today. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.