Meditation Monday – Dig Deeper Into God’s Heart

by Christine Sine
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by Christine Sine

At the beginning of the year, you may remember, I chose Digging Deeper as my words for the year and used that as the foundation for my dreaming and planning for the year. I am still digging deeper and as a proclamation of that, this week, I created a “Dig Deeper” contemplative garden. It was such fun to pull out a bowl I have not used for a while and re-arrange a couple of the plants from my Advent garden. Recycling plants and bowls from past gardens is a great reminder for me that when God digs deeper into our lives it is not about wiping out what is past and starting again. Digging deeper is about refreshment and renewal of the old.

From that point on my garden developed its own very unique flavour, however.  I particularly enjoyed painting some of the rocks I collected on our recent retreat to emphasize my theme. This creative exercise doesn’t just add color and decoration to the garden, it is also a great stimulus for meditation and a reminder of the imperfections in my life. One fun addition to this garden were a couple of the small implements I use to keep my indoor plants in order.

EA5E5073 F492 4ECE A848 E76FABB23A00The scripture at the forefront of my mind as I embark on this part of my journey is Psalm 84:5,6

How enriched are they who find their strength in the Lord;
within their hearts are the highways of holiness! 
Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears,
they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain.
He gives to them a brook of blessing
filled from the rain of an outpouring.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the year – digging deeper is not about creating bigger holes, rather it is about observing, listening and taking notice of the world both within and around in order to enrich and nourish the wholeness God has placed within. As an optimist, I often find pleasant pools where others find only pain, and God has definitely given to me a brook of blessing.
Thinking about that this week as I prepared for my Faith formation discussion on The Gift of Wonder I realized that at this point, digging deeper for me needed to begin with looking back at the milestones that have shaped me, recognizing the thread of God’s light that winds through the journey of my life. So last Wednesday I did some reminiscing, adapting the exercise at the end of chapter 3 of the book for my reflection. It was an exhilarating endeavour. Here is a little of what I learned as I reflected on my life journey.
Birth is the first milestone in any of our lives. For me this was a little more fragile than most as I was a premature infant, spending the first two weeks of my life in hospital. I look back and thank God for the comforting presence that embraced me when my mother was unable to. That same presence protected me from the possible harm of too much oxygen – lots of prem babies in those days lost sight because of this challenge.
My growing up was overshadowed by the violence of my father’s temper but I look back now much more aware of the privileges of a good education and a stable family around me. Lots of fun and many summer adventures with the added blessing of exposure to the cultures of my Greek and Scottish heritage as well as Australian cultures. So much richness that stood me in good stead when I worked in other cultures around the world. I was truly a 3rd culture kid in the days before that term was invented.
My move to New Zealand was a milestone in my career as a physician and also in other aspects of my life. My first experience of community and the healing I received convinced me that all of us need community to uncover the wholeness God has placed within us.
Joining the mercy ship Anastasis was more than a milestone, it was the pivotal point of my life. Not only was I privileged to shape and direct the medical ministry of Mercy Ships for a number of years but I also formed friendships that are still strong and enduring. These years shook the foundations of my life – upending both my faith, and my medical understanding as I was exposed to poverty and non-Western medical models. What is God’s view of healing? Does God care about the poor and if so what is my responsibility? These were two important life-changing questions that came out of this time. My passion for a whole-life faith where spiritual practices intertwined through all of life and where our theology shaped not just our beliefs but our actions grew out of this time.
Next milestone was my marriage to Tom in 1992. The delight of a relationship that still continues to grow, the enrichment of shared ministry and passion for God and the continued emphasis on community still shape my life in special ways. Tom introduced me to the Celtic Christian tradition and to Anabaptist theology both of which are still important influences in my life.
Then came my role as the head of Mustard Seed Associates laying the foundations for what is now Circlewood. Holding Celtic retreats on the land we owned on Camano Island and developing the basic plans for what will one day I believe, become an important environmental education site was a very satisfying season of my life. During that time I also wrote several books and grew my passion for gardening as a spiritual practice.
When Tom and I stepped down from Mustard Seed Associates and deeded the 40 acres on Camano over to Circlewood for further development, I was not sure what lay ahead, but the thread of God’s plan is still very obvious. Developing Godspace from a personal blog to an international writing community and resource centre is another very satisfying adventure. Now my developing partnership with Lilly Lewin and her encouragement to experiment with creative ways to express my faith continues to grow and enrich my life. My writing increasingly comes out of that creative partnership. The Gift of Wonder was a good example of that and my upcoming book Digging Deeper: The Art of Contemplative Gardening is another outgrowth of my reliance on creative approaches to spirituality.
Yes – pleasant pools, brooks of blessing. Not without their hardships. There have been losses of family members and years of illness that marred the journey but oh how those fade into insignificance when we focus on the thread of God’s presence in our lives.
This Digging Deeper garden has already had significant impact on me and I feel I have just scraped the surface of what God intends for me to learn through it. In that light, I rewrote my digging deeper prayer at the beginning of the year.
May we dig deeper into the ways of God,
Into the purposes of God
Into the places that need healing
Relationships that need strengthening
Dreams that will be fulfilled.
May we dig deeper
And find fertile ground
For the seeds God is planting
In our souls.
Seeds of love and hope and truth,
Seeds of creation flourishing
Seeds of life that beckon us towards tomorrow.
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Lent Virtual Retreat 2022 Now available for registration! Join Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin as they explore what it means to find beauty in the ashes and prepare for a meaningful Lenten journey. Live via Zoom on Saturday, February 26th from 9:30 am PT to 12:30 pm PT (check my timezone). This retreat will include opportunities for creativity and contemplation, interaction and informative refreshment – but is also designed to be recorded as a course. If you aren’t able to make it live, you will still enjoy all the fun, and have the recording as yours forever to enjoy at your own pace. Click here to register as a live-or-later participant!

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