Sitting in my home office, I’m gazing out the window at my garden sanctuary it looks a total mess. I just haven’t had the time to finish cleaning up from the winter. It’s worse this spring because I decided to only minimally remove plants from last summer/fall, choosing instead to leave them for the birds and various animals to forage over the winter months.
In the midst of the mess emerge new plants from seed left behind and scattered by my animal friends, my gardening companions. It’s fun to see just what emerges where… and when. Gazing further out I see the top of Mt. Defiance still covered with snow. Those native to this valley remind us that, if there’s still snow on Mt. Defiance, then it’s still too early to plant seeds. Yet wandering my garden I see little signs of defiance everywhere, flowers and vegetables naturally emerging after a long, cold winter.
In the book of Ecclesiastes we’re reminded that there is a season for everything. Ancient wisdom can provide general guidelines to some of those seasons, like planting, but each year brings a new interpretation of the seasons, told first by new plants bursting forth from their seed-tombs. This year I am surprised by the contrast between the amount of snow still on Mt. Defiance and the new life springing forth all over my garden. And so it is with resurrection; it catches us off guard, bringing both joy and hope. (And we’re certainly ready for that after the winter we’ve had!).
Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week is just three days away. Lent is drawing to a close as hearts turn first to the cross, and then to resurrection. Like lingering snow on Mt. Defiance, Lent continues to linger. And like those seeds bursting early from their winter grave, I’m all ready to burst forth. It’s a bit like the famous “Already, but not yet” of the gospel. Resurrection is already upon us, but so much more lies ahead – a fullness not yet realized.
Holding these two things together, I want to attempt a kind of virtual Lectio Tierra. I wrote about the practice of Lectio Tierra last August in my post, Listening to the Life of Jesus… in a Tree. For this exercise, I invite you to watch the slideshow loop of various signs of new life from my garden.
As you watch, invite God to capture your attention with one of the images.
Watch the video again but this time pause on the image that catches your attention. (just click anywhere on the video and it will pause)
- As you gaze upon this image, how does it speak to you about:
- the past?
- the present?
- the future?
- Try to put yourself or a current relationship or situation into the picture. For example, try completing a sentence or two like:
- My life is like this _____ because I also…
- The relationship I’m thinking of is like _______ because we _________ but we also ___________.
- I see this situation in this ________. Both reveal ________.
- Sit silently with what you’ve heard and expressed so far.
- End with prayer. You might begin with the outline below, then allow God to lead you further.
- “Thank you, Creator God, for the gift of both winter and spring. In them you reveal ______________. “
- “Thank you for the gift of creation and how you speak to us through the work of your hands. In particular, thank you for the image of ___________ through which you’ve shown me __________.”
- “Help me to remain alert, hearing you speak through your whole creation. Help me to take what I’ve heard today and allow its truths to sink deep into my heart. Like the changing of the seasons and new growth in the garden, change me day by day and grow me so that in each new season I reflect more of who you are and who you’ve created me to become.”
If you found this exercise helpful I invite you to take it out into your garden, local park, or with you as you walk your neighborhood. As you walk, notice God’s creation through the change of seasons. Our friends in the southern hemisphere will have a slightly different experience than those of us in the north, but the exercise will work the same.
Comment below or drop us an email and tell us how this exercise works for you in your setting. And as you go, walk in the fullness of God’s shalom.