The Pacific NW has had virtually no snow or rain this winter. Snow pack is as low as 6% of normal in some areas. We are all anxious about a dry summer. I am getting my garden ready for a dry spell, installing rain barrels, heaping on compost and mulch and repairing leaks.
Dry spells happen not just in the natural world but in our spiritual lives too. There is much we can do to prepare and the principles are surprisingly similar to those in the garden.
First we need to take notice of the signs that suggest a dry spell is on the way. “Unseasonably warm temperatures” or high stress and anxiety, and “lack of rain” or seasons of intensely draining activity, are my two best indicators that I need to take notice of. Its easy to ignore them and hope that the drain on our spiritual reserves will not deplete us, but that is as unlikely as the impact of drought on physical water supplies.
What Is Your Response?
Sit quietly for a few moments. Read through the scripture above and remind yourself of the last dry spell you went through. Think back over the events that led to your dryness. What were the signs should have taken notice of that indicated your spiritual life was heading for a dry spell? How did you respond to these? What is one action step you could take to be more responsive to those indicators in the future?
There are several ways to make ourselves less vulnerable to dry spells.
Store more water.
When drought hits every drop of water is precious. We need to store it so that is kept fresh and freely available. Jesus knew that. When he was driven out into the desert it was the “stored water” – his knowledge of the scriptures and the purposes of God – that sustained and strengthened him through what must have been a very dry and draining experience. And in the garden of Gethsemane I am sure that his night in prayer was what gathered the reserves that would see him through the agonizing journey toward the cross.
Memorizing scriptures, sitting quietly in the presence of God for a few minutes each morning and drinking in the water of God’s spirit, writing prayers and spending time reflecting on them are all practices that I find store water for me. What about you?
What is Your response:
Read through the scripture again. Reflect on your last dry spell. How do you store spiritual water? What are the regular practices in your life that make the words and ways of God resonate deep within your being and draw you close to God when you feel drained or dried out? How could you nurture these experiences in a future time of spiritual dryness?
We need to conserve the water that is already in us.
Compost and mulch are a gardener’s best friend, but what are the equivalents in our spiritual lives? When we are dry and drained out it is often almost impossible to reach for the bible or pray. Reading spiritual books seems to add to our dryness. So what keeps the water of God flowing strongly within our hearts and souls during a dry spell? For me it is time spent out in the garden, and the reciting of prayers that others have written. Patrick’s breastplate is an especially powerful prayer in this context. When I read it out loud it resonates through my body and lodges in my heart in a wonderful way.
What is your response?
Once more sit quietly and remind yourself of your last spiritual dry spell. What were the practices that conserved the water within you? How could you nurture these more effectively next time you approach a dry spell?
St Patrick, who found a close walk with God while a slave in Ireland, knew how to prepare for dry spells. Listen to The Deer’s Cry, a song based on Patrick’s Breastplate. Is there anything else that comes to you that might help you respond to a dry spell?