Deadheading is for the Birds

by Christine Sine

I don’t usually upload two posts in a day but this is an exception – tomorrow’s post is being uploaded early because tomorrow my blog is moving and I will not be able to add content. Hopefully those of you who visit the blog will not notice any changes – except that by the end of the day there should no longer be advertisements at the end of the posts. If you do have problems please bear with us – we hope that the change will make it easier to expand the resources available on the site and give us more freedom in what types of files we are able to upload. The url will change to but if traffic will continue to be redirected from the old site.  So with that preamble….

Dahlias in the garden

Yesterday morning I shared about spirituality and gardening in a class at Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. It was a beautiful morning and we were able to wander in the local pea patch for part of the time. Beautiful dahlias are still in bloom and the fragrance of roses wafted on the air. Rosemary, thyme and oregano waited to be crushed in hands to share their fragrance as well. But in the midst of the beauty there was also brokenness and death. Giant thistle seed heads ready to blow away on the wind. Piles of dead leaves, and much to our disgust dirty syringes and broken bottles.

thistle head

Our instinct was to  pull out the dying plants, deadhead the summer blooms and “tidy up”. We don’t like untidy spaces and we like even less, the brokenness it sometimes uncovers. We wanted to throw away the syringes and pretend that the brokenness of the city had not invaded this tranquil space.

But is that really what we should be doing? Evidently those untidy and seemingly dead flowers are an important source of nourishment for the birds over the winter. And the corners full of dead leaves provide warm hiding places for insects, frogs and other garden animals.

Maybe the brokenness of our world has a purpose too we speculated. Perhaps as the birds find nourishment from the seemingly dead flowers, we too find nourishment in the midst of the death and brokenness of our souls. And maybe those “dead leaves” are good places for us to hide too so that we can be protected from the wounds still too painful to bear. If we clean them up too quickly before they have done their winter work maybe our lives will suffer.

We grow closer to God in times of sorrow and heartache then we do when everything is going well. We find healing more rapidly when we recognize and face our pains and brokenness then we do in the height of “summer” when everything in our lives seems as sunny as the weather.

This wander in the garden provided some encouraging and challenging lessons for me. I know there are still broken areas in my life that I would love to tidy away right now. And as I look at my loved ones and my friends I see places in their lives I would like to tidy up as well. But God says be patient, make sure you nourish and protect them until God says it is time to tidy up.

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Dana Peterson October 15, 2013 - 5:47 pm

I really enjoyed this post, I loved the idea it presented, but wondered about the thought that we come closer to God through our sorrow. I have had sorrow in my life, and it has brought me to God’s door, yet, now, my whole life revolves around my Savior, and this has only grown. I should hope that I don’t have to go through a lifetime of sorrow just to be one of God’s children–there are many who lose their faith because they believe that God causes them their pain. That’s a tough one. God taps me on the shoulder sometimes, and that’s hard enough for me to deal with–I feel for those folks who are at disaster’s door all the time–those hungry, unclothed, or without shelter. Just a thought. Blessings!

Christine Sine October 15, 2013 - 6:07 pm

Dana you are right – I am not suggesting that we need to go through a lifetime of sorrow to draw us closer to God, just as I am not suggesting that we should always live in winter, but for all of us there are seasons of sorrow. To deny those when they come is often to somehow lessen the work that God wants to do in our lives. I am not implying that God causes the pain either but God knows it is there, a result of our brokenness. In fact I think that in all of us there are layers of brokenness and we can only deal with so much sorrow at a time. There come seasons in all our lives when we need to allow that pain to surface , or at least as much of it as we can cope with at the time.

Dana Peterson October 15, 2013 - 6:27 pm

I smile as I reply and say that “I had a hunch you would say that”! Thank you! It warms me to hear you voice what I was thinking in your response. It also warms me that you allowed me to be heard. Again, thank you. Blessings.

Christine Sine October 15, 2013 - 8:07 pm

So glad we are in accord. Blessings Dana

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