Like most of us keen gardeners here in the Northern Hemisphere, I am starting to think about planting the spring garden. Next week I will get early greens and peas into my seed starter kits, shortly after I will get the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages going and then the tomatoes. From my perspective spring is the planting season. Imagine my surprise as I read Parker Palmer’s wonderful book A Hidden Wholeness a couple of weeks ago (more about that in a later post). He talks about autumn as the season of planting – the season when nature begins her work again by dropping and scattering seed. This is also the season when trees set buds which contain the leaves and flowers for next year’s growth. Winter then is a season of dormancy, a time of hibernation when growth has gone underground, and even what is above the surface is pruned and cut back in preparation for a new spurt of growth.
As I thought about this I realized the power of this perspective, a perspective that is distorted by our man-made cultivator’s view of seasons. Palmer talks then about spring as a season of surprise – when winter’s deaths give rise to new life. It reminded me of how much I love to go out in the garden to see what has sprouted without my help. These are often the strongest seeds in my garden, the ones that give rise to the best and hardiest crops.
This view is similar to the Jewish view of the day which begins at sunset with us going to sleep and God at work inviting us each morning to join the work God has already begun. Part of the strength of this perspective is the understanding that all of us have hidden untapped potential planted deep within our souls, just waiting for the warmth of spring to allow it to emerge. It also reminds us to be patient when we have planted and not seen the growth we had hoped for. Remembering God is at work and invites us to join the work already begun is a heart warming and faith building concept.
You might, as you prepare for spring this year, like to ask the questions Palmer suggests: What seeds were planted when you arrived on earth with your identity intact? How can we recall and reclaim those birthright gifts and potentials?