We’ve had a very mild winter here in northeast Oklahoma during the past few months. It’s been hard to wait for spring to actually get here so we can get out in our small yard and deck to piddle around in nature and get our hands, etc., dirty. But we’ve still been having some cold nights and we have not yet planted anything to give our home lives more color and taste – more life. That’s what spring and gardening is all about really, isn’t it? Regardless what scale you do it, as a huge multi-acre farmer, a patio flower potter or anywhere in between the idea of raising plants is much like the concept of raising one’s level of life to its next level. Gardening helps the gardener who has any sense of spirit to more fully allow that spirit to work. Here’s how:
The first thing a gardener must do is to decide where to place the garden. For most this is a simple task, simply deciding if they are going to place it in a more obvious place, like for a flower garden, for all to see or someplace more hidden where the vegetables can grow more freely. Others are more limited than this. The soil their working with may be rocky or root bound. It may not have the nutritional value needed by plants for them to thrive. In these cases the place to put a garden may be more limited and more work must be done.
Once the location for the garden is chosen, then we must plot out the area. This area must have access to sunlight at least part of the day. Water is essential and must be adequate enough to not cause the plants to dehydrate. Now if we are going to use and prepare the soil it must be prepared. This means removing the old grass and other plants and turning and loosening the soil to give the new plants the advantage to have loose and fresh soil to grow in. If the soil is seen to be missing some mineral or perhaps lacks a good source of water then we must find a way to provide this or the plants will be doomed from the beginning. Also some additional minerals may be necessary, as well as a acid/alkaline balance may be necessary to supplement in the ground for most plants to grow their best.
Once the dirt for your plants is properly prepared it is usually best to place border markers of some sort around the garden spot to prevent intruders, especially if you live in an area where rabbits and other critters run free. This boundary can be in the form of a low cost fence or a low wall, but it should be placed underground around the perimeter of the garden area since most critters and other plant life can burrow under a ground surface obstruction. Birds are notorious for flying over fences and scratching up the seed you so diligently sowed, so it’s best to plant a few extra as a precaution. If you end up with too many plants they can be thinned out later.
So, finally the garden plot, rather in your yard or in a flower pot, is ready. Where’s the seed? What do you plant? Hopefully you’ve figured that out a few weeks ago as you sat in your warm house dreaming of spring. You take the seed out to the garden, start poking holes in the dirt along the guide strings you’ve plotted and drop the seed into the holes with gentle sweeps of your hand to cover them with dirt. After spending some time doing this the garden is lovingly filled with seed and you go to get the hose. You spray water over the garden giving a little prayer for the gift of life to enter the seed and stand back looking at you’re day’s work and the awesome feeling of being a part of the creative process.
Then wait. We wait for the first visible signs of life as the little plants heads and first leaves appear above the ground proving that the process of life has been working even before it could be seen. Then we wait a while longer and see the plants grow into sturdy stalks and vines with full grown stems and leaves. And just a while longer those plants start to bloom with glorious colors and perhaps even fruit. Then, one day anticipated by all gardeners, comes harvest which for most is a glorious time of festivities rather the harvest comes from a field of orange trees in Florida or a single tomato plant in a Japanese balcony flower pot. Have a good, fresh meal, you deserve it.
What a wonderful experience gardening is. One which is much like the garden of our souls. We come into this world with little recognition or guidance as to what to do with it. We know we want to experience life and what is good in it. But how? How do we plant our spiritual garden? Where do we put it? Do we plant flowers for all to see, or vegetables and herbs to eat? How do we know the difference? How do we decide?
We watch others tending their own lives, their own plots of ground known as their bodies, and start learning how we want to live ourselves. We then start realizing that there are, indeed, different types of foods which come from different types of flowers, making it necessary for us to choose what we will plant in our own lives to grow spiritually. Some plants give beautiful flowers, but they either produce no fruit at all, or it is inedible. Some plants produce wonderful fruit, while others produce leaves, stems or even roots which are delicious. It is up to us to decide how we want our lives to fit into this world. But how do we plant our spiritual garden?
Much the same way as we planted our earthly garden, we must first decide if your spiritual garden is to be up front in our lives, for all to see, or will it be in the back yard kept as a more private experience. Either is fine. But keep in mind that while you may prefer not to openly wear your spirituality “on your shirt sleeve,” that people can see over your backyard fence and still see your garden is always a possibility. Likewise, having your spirituality in your “front yard” where you show it openly does not mean that you are necessarily growing spiritually, one must first experience a spiritual transformation within before the true beauty of spiritual flowers can begin to grow and blossom within one’s life to help and be appreciated by others.
The ground within your own life must be prepared. Through time as a young person your experiences have caused the “dirt,” that is the spiritual soil to become hardened. It has taken on much unnecessary and unwelcomed weeds and brambles which, if you are to be spiritually minded, must be uprooted and removed. The soil must be plowed and tilled to loosen your thoughts which have become hardened to “miracles” and unseen forces and boundaries must be placed upon who you allow to work in your garden and what you allow to enter it.
Then it is time to find the seed you want to plant, and to plant it carefully. Choose your mentors with much consideration and prayer. Read their written works as you would fertilize virgin ground. Cover these seeds completely with the loving ground of your soul’s faith and await the miracle of life. And if your faith is but as “a mustard seed,” as the Master Teacher said, your garden will begin to sprout and grow and flower and produce good fruits of righteousness so much desired by all those who seek spiritual things.
And what are the fruits of a spiritual life? The Apostle Paul told the Galatians what a spiritual person would be able to harvest in their lives:
“. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (GAL 5:22-23—NIV)
I hope everyone in the northern hemisphere has a wonderful spring with your planting time. Please, make it a promise to yourself to try a new spiritual plant this spring and summer. For those of you who live south of the equator, have a wonderful fall and I hope your harvest is bountiful. May your love be made perfect, your joy complete, your peace beyond measure, your forbearance toward all, your kindness shown purely, your goodness undeniable, your faithfulness absolute, your gentleness show strength and your self-control impeccable.