Week 1 Day 4: Rhythms in Nature
Week 1: Rule of Life & Rhythm of Nature
Workbook Exercise: Other Garden Plots
Watch: Week 1 Day 4: Rhythms in Nature
How might the rhythms you observe in nature inform the way you live?
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Transcript of Video:
Welcome. We’re so glad to have you join us for this program over the next few weeks. We’ll be working on a focus of growing a Rule of Life. We’re hoping over the next few weeks through these videos and through questions that we pose, to help you reflect on your own lives and to imagine structures or disciplines or practices that might help you to live that life more fully and more abundantly.
The scriptures say, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.” And we believe that in the natural world around us there are lessons to be learned from the patterns and rhythms of nature that we see around us, patterns that can inform our own patterns of living and our own ways of structuring our lives. Jesus often drew from the natural world when he spoke in parables or used examples in his teaching. He talked about sowers sowing seed, and vines and vineyards. He talked about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, and he drew spiritual lessons, spiritual truths from these. So we’re going to invite you to reflect on the natural world. Particularly we’re going to focus on the metaphor of a garden thinking about our lives as “garden plots” and thinking about what we choose to plant there, and how we can nurture those plants and help them come to their full expression.
So over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to be moving through several phases and in each phase we’ll consider a different part of our life. There will be an introduction to each phase, a series of videos and questions that help us probe some of the aspects of that phase, and then a summary at the end, where we get a chance to reflect and maybe pull a few ideas or “seeds” from those things that we have been talking about for our garden plot – for this part of our garden plot. We’re looking forward to having you join us in these weeks. God bless you.
– Br. David Vryhof
I too an a avid gardener. I watch not only the directions on the packets of seed. But the world around. Just like Christ said you know the wind comes from the west it will rain The wind blows from the south it will be warm. Most of ny ancestors farmed this way. I too an very attentive to the world around me..
One thing too I do, is to take risks. I might move a plant to see if it will do better. Other times i will buy something new, this year it was an olive tree. I grow it in a pot. It is not native to my climate. [Indiana} however it keeps me attentive to the surroundings, and care of the plant.
I know if I forget a plant or become so wrapped up in the world with all its drama and cares, that plant might not survive. A good example is vacations if I forget to have them watch, they die..
So for me to garden and my rules requires attentiveness being aware of all that is doing around me, and taking trust my focus will be on HIM.
When I think of seasons, I think of Vivaldi’s masterpiece, The Four Seasons. Such beautiful music so close to my heart. My precious daughter danced in a German ballet troupe – they represented spring. I remember this 2001 performance like it was yesterday.
The obvious metaphor for seasons is our life represents one year. I think there is another meaning as well. I experience rebirth and the natural cycle ending in death repeatedly. As a creative person with ADD, I can go through this life cycle process in a short period of time. A new idea sparks enthusiasm – a birth. During the summer cycle, I learn everything I need to know and purchase supplies needed to turn my dream into reality. Once I’ve mastered the process, I become comfortable in the process and produce the desired object – repeatedly. And then I’m done. When I reach winter, there’s no encouraging me to continue. No amount of money will convince me to continue working on a design after I’ve reached winter. Winter is the worst – packing everything up and tidying my mess is a drudgery I endure only because I want to experience spring again.
As I continue with this study, my challenge is to learn how to fully embrace winter before jumping into spring again.
In nature I see God’s ruled of Life. Four seasons, four rule He established for His creation. Nature never deviates from those rules. I also see that each season brings good and bad. In summer we bask in the sun, but we also get hurricanes. In spring we sow and see flowers, but we have to prune. In fall in we begin to feel relief from summer, but then it’s back to work and school, Winter can be the hardest of all, but then we get Christ (mas).
Of necessity, I am an intensive gardener who wants to get the most product for the table from a small vegetable plot. This causes me to:
reflect and make the right choices of which veg to grow and which to buy in season
make the correct choice of spacing between plants and not be tempted to crowd
nourish and replenish the soil
water with care
work hard at tilling and weeding
manage pests and diseases as organically as possible
This list is full of metaphors for my life; making deliberate choices, not being greedy, caring for my health and that of my family, not being excessive, honest hard work, and a balanced approach to those who may challenge me. That’s why I like gardening!
Nature miraculously renews itself continuously. It reminds me that everyday we have a chance of renewal in our lives. And like the seasons our lives have a beginning and an end.. for Ash Wednesday to be reminded of the precious gift of life and to be grateful each day.
I wish I liked gardening.
If I look at my garden right now I see beautiful flowers and bushes, colour and life. I give thanks for my daughter, who comes to see us and loves to spend time in the garden weeding. I understand the seasons, I love Autumn. I grasp that it’s God’s will that things are as they are for us. And in the Midlands, summer is a mixed feast. However when I apply the gardening metaphor to my life I get the parallels. I understand the flashes of colour, the need for space and sunlight, and approaching winter.
But there will be another spring!
I’m in Australia, so Lent is in autumn. This fits in my mind, the cooler weather and beautiful changes in the leaves seem to fit for me with a time of reflection.
Nature is abundant but it isn’t neatly perfect-what seems unpleasant or ugly like smell or decay is actually rich with potential.It doesn’t grow in straight lines. Its fruit becomes what it is meant to be,not what we might imagine it should ( a pomegranate rather than an apple,for example) and it is much more abundant and varied than we would imagine if we tried to develop it.
We can nurture and water plants to be much more productive than they would be otherwise, but if we put them in the wrong setting they will get stunted.Some plants grow best together ( companion plants).
Too much nourishment or water will make the plants sick- moderation works best.
Plants need light ( God)- they will reach for it wherever they are, even if covered over .
Plants grow better and more productive if pruned- sometimes things have to be removed to let the light in and stop unhealthy growth .
Lately I’ve been considering pruning in all its aspects – pruning my home so that it doesn’t get overgrown, pruning my blog so there is new room to grow. Even the daily rhythm of morning and evening, work and rest. There are also seasons where the animals seem to be much more active, and seasons where they all but disappear.
Fall is my favorite time of the year and it has special meaning to me now that I am reaching closer to my retirement years. The changing colors of the leaves are seen as beautiful just as many changes in life are beautiful and bring joy while they last. Falling leaves remind me, I too, have had thoughts and feelings that I had to let go and let God or else my soul would feel dried up and withered much like what happens when the colored leaves touch the ground and dry up – loosing their hur of colors. As temperatures begin to drop some and I put on a lite jacket or sweater to go for a walk out in nature, the crisp, Fall air hits my nose and as I breathe in, I just want to breathe all of life that God has made for all creatures to enjoy. I take a few moments to silently thank God for all of life and ask Him to never let me forget where I came from and whether in good times or not so good of times to just breathe in the air around me and be grateful for each moment.
I guess an understanding that the Rule we write is a growing and self discovery process at least I hope so I have difficulty finding my footing since my divorce and leaving the army last year. So it will be interesting to see those areas seeds if you will that I can nurture.
There are many layers of cycles to which to respond: nature, light/darkness, warmth/cold, work/rest, recreation/leisure, youth/age, deadlines/etc. We have little control over most of them. So, for me the seasons are representative of how to sink into the various demands and lapses to see what they say to me: to let God take over and to be receptive to change as it comes.
I don’t particularly like getting older, but I could digress and think about the spring bulbs peaking up (too soon?) and whether they will withstand the yet-to-come cold. On the other hand, I realize that I may have seen this pattern before, that it comes and goes without much remark, and I can take it for benefit or aggravation.
So, I rest when I need to, try to plan for work time that is productive and use of energy, nuture my physical needs with food, exercise, refreshment, etc. I try to not react to the negativity of others, but respond with quietude, knowing there is another cause; then, setting aside alone time to ponder the various causes that I should not take personally, then turn to scripture and prayer to quiet my soul to rest, then snuggle into the loving arms of God with breathing, into God’s peace and rest.
Hi, I’m getting to this late.
I love the metaphor of our inner lives as gardens, and speak of gardening through life (easing a branch here, clearing a waterway there, bracing up a weak plant, etc.) but the nature around me is my beloved woods more than my garden. That went fallow when I became very ill and hasn’t yet been reclaimed – but my woods, the places I watch the deer come and go, are what I observe. They teach me the seasons pass on with or without our presence, and it is we who are enriched by them. Receiving patiently the creatures that come, reserving space (my chicken coop) from the creatures that are predatory – I think all of these work as metaphors for our spiritual life.
Helps to see self as part of whole. Acknowledge that spring is not the only season – nor winter!
The first thing that comes to mind at this time of year is the way in which nature, at least in my part of the world, takes a long rest through the winter. I don’t know that I’d want to hibernate every year, but I am attracted to the idea of a long time, months, of letting my days be governed by the rhythm of nature and not by the clocks and schedules that have ruled my life thus far. What would it be like to go to sleep when the sun sets and awaken when the sun rises? Someone pointed out to me once that while humans plant their seeds in the spring usually, nature plants its seeds in the fall. They rest over the winter. Perhaps what I’m feeling called to is not necessarily months of hibernation, but more time for prayer and meditation, time to allow the seeds within me to rest as they prepare themselves for the moment of bursting forth.
Without forests fires that burn underbrush, minor fires become conflagrations, endangering trees that wouldn’t be threatened by small fires. Deliberately suppressing fire makes forests more vulnerable to it. Maybe avoiding conflict makes me more vulnerable to it.
Growing requires darkness; my spiritual growth needs mystery. Too much light can burn tender leafs; certainty stunts spiritual growth.
I love watching the seasonal changes I observe in my flowers and trees. I love just sitting in my garden listening to the birds, watching the bees and the butterflies. The changes that occur in nature reflects what goes on in my life, birth, growth, production rest and death.
I am starting to recognize seasons within my life, not just those of spring (childhood), summer (teen to young adult), etc., but those within each month, week, and day. I am leaning into this knowledge tentatively, with a caution I don’t know the origin of…at least not yet. I’ve come to understand that things happen in their right time, in their right season, but that I am only able to see the rightness of that match in hindsight. It’s my hope, as I enter the autumn of my life, that I become more comfortable with the ebb and flow, the growth and dormancy of my life and am able to discern which seeds will best grow in which parts of my garden.
If there is a cloud in the sky it may rain or snow. If the sun is out, it will be hot. If there is rain. We will have flowers, trees and pastures for animals to graze. If we have flowers we have bees to pollinate. If we have too much sun the heat will kill us. As will the change of seasons am I aware of what is going on. I look forward to warm weather when it is bitter cold. I look forward to cold and the colors of fall when it is too hot. My air conditioning is on so that I may accomplish what I need to with out the heat. Weeding will let water grow flowers better. Fertilizer will give vegetables their abundance. What I choose to water will live what I chose to with hold water from will die. As what relationships I want to give my time to will flourish, and the relationships I choose to ignore will fade away.
I have to compare the seeds sown, the growth and sustainability, and the maturing of the elements of a garden to what I have lived in my own life; all of it exists, it seems, in the chaos that surrounds us. The somewhat ordered structure in a garden, seems to me, is an ideal that we all hope for in our lives, at least in my own life. It says to me that It is possible to live life in a productive, heart-felt way, even when surrounded by other elements that may hinder one’s attempt to live purposely and peacefully. Nature truly has so much to teach us.
Annie sang, “The sun’ll come up tomorrow”, and sure enough it does. Everyday is a new opportunity. I will wake up, eat breakfast, grow into the troubles and blessings of the day, be challenged, feel weary, love, be loved, be dismayed, be encouraged, see wonders around me, reflect on the day and the world, act, and finally sleep. There is nature, there is rhythm. God is with me in that, how do I become more sensitive and aware of God in my life?
The first thing that came to my mind on this question: “Biomimicry” – the imitation of models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems (wikipedia). Quick examples of this: the “flying machine” sketches of Leonardo DaVinci (15th Century) and the Wright Brothers’ first flight (1903) based on the studies of the flight of birds. The green and sustainability movement are all over this idea of what we can learn from nature to improve our lives and our planet.
I can learn from the seasons of nature. Life has each season, and I can often experience all the different seasons in the course of a week, as well. A rule of life can help me navigate the seasons, and can prepare me to withstand the harsh seasons as well as to revel in “fields of plenty”. The parable of the soils keeps coming to my mind…..
That in nature there is true inter beauty and a purpose for everything that God created. It makes one realize that beauty is not always the outward appearance that we see, and often base our opinion and judgement on this initial visual perception. Without taking the time to see what lies beneath the outward appearance. God created every living creature as well as every human with a specific purpose. But we often do not get to see the true beauty and often amazing purpose because we have only looked at the outward appearance. And not taken the time to see the true inner beauty that is in all of God’s creatures.
I think of the circle of the seasons with times of fallow or rest seasons of germination and growth and then harvest. I think also of the rhythm of the tides repeating relentlessly or steadfastly depending on your perspective.
Corn doesn’t spring up magically or quickly. It takes careful planting, nurturing, patience, and maybe something else that we can’t see – a will to grow, maybe?
If the natural world shows God’s handiwork, then maybe we’re meant to follow its ways in our human lives. For spiritual practices, maybe that means plant what will thrive in the right environment, provide structure and nurture for it to grow, have patience and joy as we watch it grow, be joyful when it reaches maturity, and share it with people at the harvest. Then do it all over again the next season.
I, too, awaken before dawn daily. I am at my best when I mimic the rhythm of nature. It occurred to me as I listened to this video that my current situation has been tailor made by God for my life, a renewal and new beginning. It’s wonderful how seeking God makes things so crystal clear sometimes, as it has for me at this moment. In my renewal I must look inward and outward to my renewed and refreshed attitude towards life and towards humanity. I am often trapped inside my own head with little thought of others, only of my relationship with others. This self-centeredness is a fault I can work on. I heard God saying to look at the God in others in order to repair my relations with others. Renewed outlook.
This makes me think of cycles of life and death, creation and destruction. Sometimes we have to create new habits and destroy ones that no longer serve us. This happens in nature all the time.
…one of the main observed ‘rhythms’ that i see has to do with time, which we take so for granted…daytime/nighttime…when gardening one is awaken to this e.g. most people don’t know that poinsettias need eight hours of darkness and others go dead in the dark basement through the winter..we must learn to identify quickly when we experience the ‘nature’ of God through the Absolutes of Nature…not only gardening but ones’ vocation, which can ‘hide’ Gods’ Nature and rules e.g. numbers in Natural Law and accompanying polarities (+1 -1), what might a banker experience about the Nature of God through the ‘magic’ of numbers? What might a musician experience via the Absolute Nature of Sound or what of water that can destroy pipes in Flint Michigan and cause plants to grow, salt water versus holy water, Gods love of Words to create and a computer technician working with the Nature of Word, etc etc we can see God’s Nature but we must be able to see it when in front of us!!!!!!!!
The rhythm of the seasons and the rhythm of life and death. I am in the final season of my life (age 76) and yet unlike the yearly seasons, I have no idea its length. As I have gotten older I have become more and more aware that time is finite and that every day can be a precious day for me to spread love. What a great job to have!
When I am in this state of grace, I can looking forward to that mysterious season after early life.
Life is given to all things. Each contributes to the world in which they live in various ways. When their calling is complete, they die and return to the universe and heaven awaiting their next call to life.
Recently I tidied up two small plants that had grown all over the place and were a bit of a mess. The pruning was to get rid of the useless growth and I hoped the plants would come through with flowers in one case and with a more manageable herbal leaf production in the other. When I observed much later, the herb looked lush, full and very pleasing to the eye. The flower shrub loo.ked ready to bloom all over. Funny I thought. If I was pruned like that would I be more like my real self?
I know that things are happening in my garden no matter what the season. In the dead of winter, when it looks like everything is dormant or has died back, life is still present. I have learned that with the right conditions, life will burst forth again, first slowly and tentatively, and then with explosive force. I have learned that the dark and dormant times in my spiritual life do not mean that all is dead and gone, but rather that I am being prepared for something magnificent if I will tend and nuture it.
Some of the ways in which the rhythms of nature inform the way I live seem obvious. For example, I rise with the sun and rest with the dark. Many of God’s creature do the same. Also, my activity varies with the seasons of the earth. In the summer I tend toward outdoor activity and lots of moving. In the fall, I tend to “get ready” for the winter by feeling my love piles and making stews and apple sauces. Then in the winter, I tend to stay in my cozy nest. Many creatures do the same. I love how some time in the beginning or middle of February, the light suddenly changes. Even though the earth is still frozen, the light begins to remind me of spring. As the days like them, my thoughts turn to sowing seeds. I love that Lent occurs during this time. It is one of the mysteries of our earth and our faith that out of this frozen landscape, in which most or at least many of God’s creatures may hibernate or even die, springs new life which reminds us of the life, death, and rebirth of Jesus, and of the life and death of each of us. I love the idea that from dust we are made and to dust we shall return – seen in a constant (annual) cycle for many things (plants) and a more extended cycle for humans. It is sad and beautiful and hopeful at the same time.
How might the rhythms you observe in nature inform the way you live? (Feb 10)
… the indwelling Presence of God to embrace as my nature and the nature of all that surround me. That alone gives me pause… like a new meaning and understanding of the word Nature. The old language would think of trees and streams and weather patterns and season changes… as different than. In dwelling presence of God as my nature. I sigh… and just want to breathe with …
In the garden of your life, what is thriving and what is not?
my garden is suffering from neglect and in difference. I’ve fallen out of season… once it was the Liturgical Year as the season of my heart. While I stopped maintaining the garden around the house. Then bit by bit daily practices fell away. Aging happened. Health made attending impossible, so then it was online Mass more and more. Each practice, each caring for the indwelling presence of God quietly, silently — eroded. My horarium became a time management tool rather than tending the indwelling presence of God. Then weeds! habits returning that were distant. Just lazy with the constant vigilance… perhaps that is it! The indwelling presence of God is a celebration not something to make happen by my actions.
When you connect with nature, what makes it meaningful? mountains go on being mountains and streams go on being streams, flowers bloom, leaves fall… all sustained by the indwelling presence of God and without any help from me… humility.
What ‘seeds’ have you collected for your garden plot? Seeds of Contemplation to contemplate anew…
humility… Soil the very ground of my being that is the Indwelling Presence of God, The Sacraments, Gifts of the Holy Spirit…
Communing with nature has been a huge part of my existence for as long as I can remember. Being in a natural environment brings me closer to My Creator, clears my mind, and gives me great Peace. But how might this inform the way I live? I’d never considered that before. Not until you asked. After some thoughtful consideration, I have concluded that communion with Nature really teaches me how truly intertwined we all are with it. And a little more contemplation then reveals how interwoven we also are with each other.
Nature just ‘is’. Created things live just the life that God gave them to live. They follow perfectly His directives: a time to grow, a time to produce flowers and fruit and a time to rest. Also there is in nature the birth and the death, and the rebirth. We need to follow all these markers which God has given us for our direction, growth, and enjoyment.
My answer to the question on how the rhythms of nature inform the way I live is first and foremost; be patient. In Ecclesiastes we learn that there is a time for every purpose. I wait actively for God to work out His plans for me. No matter how much I fret, would not change one iota what is going to happen. So I exercise PATIENCE. The seasons have a set pattern. We cannot change winter to summer unless we move to a different region that is having summer at the same time. Also I have learnt that while actively waiting, be prepared. You have to Clean your garden before you can plant. You have to dig and turn the soil over, cut down branches and shrubs. So I stay Prepared. I also do things at the right time. I don’t have to plant seeds in the snow; I cant snow ski in the summer; I cant swim in a frozen lake or pond! So my activities are based on the seasons. I also take time to love the world around me.
The rhythms in nature are predictable, ordered, and cyclical. The seasons come in the same order each year – winter, spring, summer and fall. Each season has its lead-ins and high points, followed by signs that it will end soon and transition into the next season. As I write, I realize that there is much about God’s rhythms in nature that can inform my life, which frankly is not very ordered or rhythmic. I like to consider myself a ‘free spirit’, which has its sweet spots, but also has its messy points. Too much freedom leads to chaos and confusion, and it means I do pretty much whatever I want whenever I want. Sure I have to do lists and goals I wish to meet. However, rules I may set up for myself don’t get followed, because I can get easily distracted by something else enticing that comes up. Then my focuses switches to the something else, leaving my original task unfinished. Nature does not work this way. If it didn’t rain in the springtime then the flowers wouldn’t grow. If the sun didn’t shine brightly in the summer then we wouldn’t be able to swim outside, go camping, or enjoy long walks outdoors on warm summer evenings. If the summer days didn’t give way to cooler fall days then the leaves would not change color and look vibrant and beautiful. Without the snowy days of winter, skiing could not happen, nor could sledding and snowball fights and making snow creatures. All of these activities are patterns. Welcomed patterns, patterns we look forward to and patterns by which we live our lives. I need to organize my own life more by these types of patterns, thereby increasing production and fulfillment in my own life and that of my family. So help me God.
Gardening is a good metaphorical framework for considering the moral quandaries of our life in the Anthropocene Epoch. The predicate of the name proposed for this new geological epoch is the unprecedented scale of human impact on Earth at every level of scale. What that implies in living our respective lives, e.g., to minimize our footprint, and collectively as protectors of life, are issues where the two great traditions in gardening may perhaps afford the best framework for contemplated our roles as stewards.
In the western tradition originating in Egypt and Persia, construction of gardens involved claiming arid and semi-arid land for cultivation by extending human reach in river valleys and by protecting cultivated land from a hostile, arid environment. Gardening in this tradition reflected a determination to make nature more livable than nature as experienced unbound.
The requirements for irrigation of the original gardens in this tradition are regarded as the original sources of the inspiration toward formal design in gardens of this tradition. The wall as a central garden element and geometric subdivisions are reflected in Persian rug designs. In ancient Persia, such walled gardens were “paradises.”
By contract, in Ancient China, agriculture evolved in societies situated along rivers surrounded by forests or flowing grasslands or prairie. The vegetation in these ancient river systems represented in their time the greatest biological diversity in the temperate world. As lands were cleared for planting and slopes were deforested and terraced, this natural diversity was significantly reduced through loss of species. Vegetation that once grew wild, e.g., the Gingko Tree, now survives only as cultivated.
The inspiration for gardens in this tradition has been to create an impression of the nature that was being lost through the expansion of lands in cultivation, ultimately through manipulations of scale, borrowed landscape, etc., techniques for creating a sense of wilderness and dramatic landscape, mountains, waterfalls, oceans, etc.
In the age of the “Sixth Extinction”, this second, Asian tradition is no less important than the first. On the land that is my responsibility, I find myself doing more subtractive than additive gardening, removing aggressive invasives and creating space for natives that are aesthetically pleasing and attractive for wildlife.
The gardens we have now are resting under the snow. Some will come to life on their own, others we will have to replant to allow new life to grow.
The rhythm right now is slow within the garden.
I am reminded to try to slow down and rest so there is renewal in me
This is a good idea and way to start. Personally I love nature and want us as humans to stop destroying nature. I found my love of nature through camping when I was a boy scout but know I don’t get to do that anymore. As for my life compared to nature I just feel confused and somewhat lost. I tried joining a religious order because like the sun in the clear sky I felt a strong shine but when things didn’t work out I felt like the sun being blocked by a cloud. At this point I am still trying to find my way out because I love living a religious life style.
I make the same error repeatedly: I strive to avoid death in any form. The loss of a relationship, a season, a loved one, a pet, an attitude, an emotion, a whatever.
We can’t have growth without decay.
And I, typical of much American thinking, only want to create, grow, expand, flourish, enliven.
So, I turn to nature… and I see just how wrong that approach is. Not “wrong” in a crime-to-be-punished sort of a way… rather, “wrong” in a the-world-just-doesn’t-operate-that-way kind of thing. If the heavens declare God’s Way-Of-Being, and Creation is preaching God’s Way to us, then Death, dark, and fallow-ways are good and right and holy.
My hope is that my Regula, once in some kind of practice, will allow for holy dying – in whatever form that may take.
“Water what you want to grow”, from Fr. Rob Bethancourt. Nurture the good in you.
Nature reminds me of new beginnings and possibilities. I am in awe of the transformation of a seed to a flower or a vegetable, how did something so little have the ability to become something so much more. And how could this be possible without a God. One of my favorite quotes these days is: just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly. Nature is all about transformation and if God allows this with plants, there is so much more that he has to offer people who were created in His own image.
As I encounter a garden or woodland instant peace and happiness fills me up. I feel connected to a greater Being. These earth and animals encounters have the power to connect me with gentleness and joy which is lacking in a harsh world. Mother Teresa said “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better & happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness in your face, your eyes, & in your smile.” As we spread this loving way it can only bring more joy in our own lives.
Although the garden has been an important metaphor of the inner life since before Genesis was written, I’m not literally a gardener or farmer. I’m not a hunter-gatherer either, but I’m interested in what a hunter-gatherer spirituality might be like. It would have to be mobile, because if you don’t raise your food, you have to follow it. So I think it would be more vulnerable and maybe more humble than even a garden spirituality, where you at least have some control over what you grow and how you grow it. With a hunter-gatherer spirituality, “you” don’t actually “grow” anything! The plants and animals whose lives feed you are the ones that grow, and your growth depends entirely on them. I had a Episcopal colleague who told me, years ago, before we became Episcopalians, that she admired forms of Christianity that say, “God has no hands but ours,” but she said she wasn’t that good. “All I know,” she said, “is that God feeds me.” Even though Jesus talked about farmers, seeds, weeds, pruning, and harvests, he urged us to consider the wildflowers and wild birds and to trust our heavenly Father to feed us and care for us as he feeds and cares for them.
I grew up and lived in The Midwest. Fifteen years ago I moved to The South to be married. As with plants that had it’s time of flourishing (a good long time) and then suddenly, it too, died. Most of my life
was spent in urban environs in areas where one can see and feel the distinct changes in the seasons. I have never been a gardener in the traditional sense. Winter is a perfect time to start a gardening themed series as this is the time to prayerfully consider what to plant.
Seasons of my life may affect what it looks like I produce but what lies beneath the surface is what makes me who I am..what God gave me the potential to be…unique like a snowflake or a fingerprint..but requiring care such as the roots of a plant needing nutrition, protection and room to grow.
Thinking about how creation relates to God, how plants and animals relate to each other, and how they relate to themselves: that could be a fascinating approach. Or, we could fall into the rote Sunday-School mantra.
Reflecting on this question I am put to mind of the ebb and flow that seasonal changes promote. A active tilling of soil in order to prepare for the patient and dormant tending and waiting for the sprouts to appear. As those small shoots of green appear, a small light of hope encourages us to look forward to what is to come. Then after enjoying the glory of a full bloom, clipping back and wading through what might have become tangled up to prevent further growth, but also allowing some intricate weavings that “look” messy but might actually be providing stability to the “structure” of our garden. I am loving this series already and so enjoying the sharing of thoughts that are providing further “fertilizer” for tending my own Lenten garden.
Nature recognizes the need to have fallow periods.
My garden is untidy, cluttered, full of dead plants that I haven’t yet had time to pull up, broken pots that I haven’t got rid of and decking and paving that desperately needs replacing! It reminds me that this is what lots of people’s lives are like, including my own; messy, in need of some hard pruning but also some gentle TLC, things needing mending or abandoned. But there are also signs of new growth; new life emerging amidst the old, and I am encouraged that no matter how messy and disorganised our lives are at any given time things can change; there is hope for a new beginning and that we have a great and wonderful Gardener God to look after us.
It is winter, and each morning the geese fly over my house, honking. My dog barks at them every morning, as though he’s never heard them before. Soon, they will head north as spring approaches. But they will be back next year to fly and honk and annoy the dog every morning. What does this teach me? That there is comfort in rhythm and routine, but that routines have a season, an ebb and flow. And that all of God’s creatures (even we humans) have natural responses — honking or barking or flying or moving to and fro in our relationships– and sometimes we would do well to let our instincts lead us and see where that takes us in our lives. Sometimes I think God leads us in ways that we can’t understand or comprehend, ways that are beyond our reasoning, but that feel utterly natural.
When I think of the rhythms of nature I think of how everything has a defined purpose and how each intricate aspect of every tree, flower, insect, bird, or animal is connected with each other. Every movement, every breath, every utterance is interconnected with another. I also think of the seasons and how they represent the need for rest, harvest, bounty, and rebirth.I want to fully embrace the purpose God has for me and to learn how to mimic his image and grow from the inside out, mindful of the exquisite mystery and simplicity bound together. I want to be a better steward of his creation in me and be more patient with the processes required for personal growth and not be so caught up in what I think is best.
Ah..those weeds…they get in the way of healthy growth..stunt the blossoms and rob the good plants of the nourishment they need…weeding is work but the results warm the heart and lets the beauty flourish. We flourish too when there are no weeds to get in God’s way!
As I enter into the Lenten season I am looking forward to the exercises in the workbook entitled Growing a Rule of Life. I have just returned from our Ash Wednesday service and the message ” from dust to dust you shall return” certainly exemplifies the Circle of Life. That is probably why I enjoyed The Lion King movie so much. We are born into this world with innocence and a clean soul. Just like a garden is cleanly tilled when first prepared for the planting of seeds. For me my seeds were watered and cared for by my mother who was a devout Catholic. I attended church and catechism regularly and felt a deep connection to God at an early age. I remember serving as an altar boy and commenting to my mother how clean I felt after confessing my sins to the priest. As we grow older weeds begin to creep into our garden when we do not attend church regularly, serve others in need, stop daily prayers and become more and more self absorbed. Our spirituality wanes and we become lost. Just as we have to actively exercise to keep our muscles toned and in shape we need to work at keeping our spirituality alive and vibrant.
So just as the seasons change and living things are born and die only to be reborn again so too it is with our spirituality.
I am excited to weed my garden this lenten season and learn ways to Grow a Rule of Life.
Judy Collins sings a song that begins “I’ll learn to love the fallow way.” The song speaks of the quiet and solitude of winter, the time when colors fade and birds retreat. The time when “the black earth dreams of violets.” To me, this song captures the spirit of the Lenten season, the quiet, the solitude, the reflection. And all the while, the sureness of new life waiting to burst forth.
This question reminded me of a poem I wrote several years ago. I have always been fascinated by single trees that stand out on hill or in a field, and especially those trees in the winter when the branches are bare and stand out in contrast to the sky. I am definitely at a place in my life where I feel like that tree, standing by myself in some ways. I know from past experience that such a time is temporary, and I am in that transition time now. It feels a lot different being in that place in my 69th year than it did when I was younger.
Exposed. Bare. Somehow alone.
“Too depressing,” some say,
“I miss the softness
and green-life-color of summer.”
But the winter-tree is my sister.
She speaks to me
of the ways of survival.
The twisted boney branches speak
of strength within.
The knots and burls are but scars
of injuries long healed.
Even bare limbs against the sky speak
– of promise and of hope.
In their rustle and creak,
I hear a whisper,
“It shall not always be so;
I only sleep.”
I loved your poem! I could only think of the hopefulness of your piece. Because if we didn’t have winter, we couldn’t have spring, summer, and fall! Winter is a must! Growing old is a must! Facing our future with joy and a wink is a must!
Thank you for your wonderful words!
I’ve seen lush, green summers and parched summers. I’ve had wonderful, well watered portions of my life and drought. I’ve seen beautiful Fall Seasons and some destroyed by Hurricanes. I’ve watched as friends and family reached the “Fall of their lives” in beautiful peaceful ways and harsh violent ways. I’ve experienced love like the warmth of a fire in winters and isolation that’s as cold and empty as 30 below zero. Through it all, the one constant of support in all the seasons, whether perceived to be “good” or “bad” has been the Lord. I’ve forsaken Him in all seasons good and bad, in big ways and small, but he has never forsaken me.
Here in New England the cold snowy darkness of winter makes it possible to have maple sugar. The cold now, today, brings us macoun, jona gold, and macintosh apples in the fall. The systems in which I move every day are vast, reaching farther and interlocking and supporting one another in ways I can never imagine. Yet I am never so small as to be lost in it. God, I know, is mindful of me. I am comforted by that.
I grew up in the inner city so I never really gave gardens much of a thought except the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane.
As for the rhythms of nature I am beginning to hike so I am reveling in nature and it’s beauty. I am starting to run so I feel the wind on my face and take in God’s creation. I am looking forward to the Spring when I can get out more 🙂
I like the analogy of a garden as my life. I am actively trying to cultivate & grow in certain areas that haven’t been really tended to in a long time, they’ve been left to slowly wither away. I’d like to see myself nursing & growing those areas in my garden which include faith and spirituality. For many years my children took up 90% of my garden plots. Now they are much older & need to create plots of their own. I look forward to growing & thriving in these spaces which are entirely my own.
The earth sleeps in Winter, takes it’s rest and burst forth is Spring rampant with joyful life. I should learn from this lesson to get enough rest each night so that each day I also can burst forth with joyful life
Nature’s rhythms are often unhurried, unlike my generally hectic professional life. The “tyranny of the urgent” leaves little room for taking delight in the moment or investing energy in longer term projects and goals. Slowing down the pace, refusing to be pulled into my own and others’ chaotic busyness – this might be a way to learn from nature.
I love how the brothers said that their life wasn’t all lilies and roses. There is hard work in gardening. But hard work has its place and is tempered by rest. There needs to be time to process, reflect, slow down, be unhurried. This is such a good reminder. If we can’t remember simply by reading the 10 commandments (6 days shall ye labor….) then the creation reminds us . . . now is the time to bloom, or lay an egg, and now is the time not to. Such a good lesson.
I have been noticing that nature’s rhythms are thrown off. I walked by the Monastery yesterday and saw little green shoots breaking through the earth. I leaned over and said, “Go Back” knowing that although it was warm, today would be colder.
My rhythms might be off, too. That’s what I need to be noticing. Do I want to be in bloom or do I prefer to be safe ? Do I know how best I grow?
The many rhythms of nature can all teach us from their own perspective. The flowing river can teach us serenity, the geese flying in formation can teach us about team, gently falling snow shows us simple beauty, the spring teaches us about renewal, not just of the green growth and flowers but our chance to renew our spirit and perhaps freshen up our relationship with God. The wind shows us that we don’t have to see something to know it exists, I am sure that every aspect of nature can show us something.
When the snow goes from a long Canadian winter I see the garden being renewed, reborn like it has arisen from the dead. To me it is the miracle of nature at hand as things start to grow once more. As we clear the soil to plant anew I feel God close by as my garden helper ready to show thru my faith that things will turn beautiful.
I like the metaphor of growing a garden and think that often the conditions for optimal
growth are just as important as what you will plant.. For me it is setting aside more time
For quiet reflection and to learn more about God’s word. Setting up a time to do this will be my first step followed by consistently keeping to this time bs this commitment
Rhythms in nature. Natures dies and is reborn. But it dies. What needs to die in me?
Gardens need care and attention or they can become overgrown, as do our lives without spiritual attention offered through a rule of life.
When I was young most families had Victory Gardens. to little me you worked the soil, planted the seeds and forgot about it until the harvest. Later I refined my skills, but the basic wonder of growth was still the important part. My life work is people. You still plant a seed and let it do it’s thing. Sometimes you reap. sometimes the seed fails. Your job is to plant.
I have watched my flowerbed this fall/winter season. The plants with flowers should have stopped blooming and become dormant. Here it is February and they are still blooming. The lilies are coming up out of the ground. All of this reminds that some things in life stay the same through all the storms and trials and other things must begin again. My husband and I have not had a church home for over a year. We decided to go back to the church we had been participating at and commit to it for the Lenten season. Last night we both felt we had come home. A beautiful example of both being there and beginning again. That is how I want to acknowledge my life right now. Accept what needs to stay and grow what needs growth.
Having always lived in geographies with distinct seasons, I cling to the specifics of the cycles: the cold, the warming, the heat, the cooling, the spare landscape, the return of blooms, the verdant gardens, the fading leaves. Within the confident rhythm, I also see annual diversity. So, while a rule may be a useful tool for setting such rhythms in my life with God, it must be elastic and adaptable to the specific moment. and inspiration Not too stiff, not too loose. A delicate balance, as is nature.
When I think about this, I am reminded of Corinthians, What you sow does not come to life until it dies. It is important to tend the earth and mind what we sow. Often we do not know the results of the seeds we have sown. We trust that our work and dedication will be fruitful.
The rhythms of nature are so complex that I
need to choose one—the wind. I feel the touch of God in the wind–sometimes soft and gentle, sometimes insistent, sometimes a portal to things to come,. and, of course ,strong and dangerous.
All of the systems work together, dependent upon one another for the success of the whole. Everything impacts everything else, for good or for ill.
There are seasons – dormancy, new growth/rebirth, vigorous growth (oh pruning!), abundant harvests, decay, death. These seasons can’t be rushed – they cycle in their own timing. And there is purpose and beauty in all of them.
Nature never seems in a hurry. Purposeful, but not hurried.
In general there is a sense of order and balance in the cycles such as day and night and the seasons: times of rest and work, as well as what specific kind of work … I have this window garden and since it is winter it is now a dirt garden so in this season my thoughts are about how I can enrich the soil so that when spring comes it will be ready for the seeds
zone 8.5 to zone 9.0 gardening is so different than gardening in zone 6! My timing is wrong for the seasons, my sense of the soil would be great if this were Wisconsin… nothing that I know about gardening seems applicable to “here” to “now”. Finding the words to say that, is a blessing… unknowing.
I frequently observe nature and have thoughts to apply to my personal life. This morning I noticed the dead leaves of winter on a tree and trust and know that new life will appear soon. I see the trees sway in the wind and I am reminded to be flexible rather than rigid in my thinking and planning. I look at the beautiful blue Texas sky with not a cloud in the sky this morning and I trust that the beautiful clouds will appear as the day unfolds. I see my puppy greet me as I return home from yoga and I am aware of unconditional love and aware of God’s unconditional love for me!
mmm, I’ve been puzzling over improving the soil for sometime now. Much like the parable about the different soils that the “seed” falls upon. So tempting to skipping ahead to seed catalogs, pondering the organic seeds or the heritage seeds, hours of sun, drainage, soaker hoses, what to do when the drought seizes the garden …. this is the time to let the soil rest and to embrace necessity of the “amendments” to the soil. Deep tilling, rock removal, compost, sand, drainage… or is it, to accept that this is a desert hermitage, and the soil is that of the desert…
The cycles of the seasons are an aid to the rhythm of life should we allow them to seep into our souls. Death and rebirth. Preparation, growth and flourishing. It cuts across our ‘instant results’ world. I pray that I allow myself to moved with nature, to be open to change, to follow the journey that lies ahead.
The 2 obvious rhythms in nature are the seasons and day and night. These are 2 things we can count on . They always stay the same and yet they change. The seasons change just as we age, beginning with spring and ending with winter. During each stage of our lives, we need to be fully into the season and appreciate what it has to offer. We are given the chance to experience each day and allow God to care for us during the night and to restore us.
I don’t think of winter as death but as “hard times” as I don’t like cold and where I live the winter is grey most of the time. I may need to see that nature lives through hard times to come back again in the spring (better days?).
I live in Austin TX, and we had enough of a warm spell that a cosmos seed sprouted and bloomed. It is only 6 inches tall, but doing its work. I want to use whatever is given to me, and bloom. I do not want to say, “Not now. It isn’t time for this now. Later.” I want to take what comes and run with it, make something beautiful with it.
it seems to me that nature is the purest representation of God, and being in nature makes me feel closer to God. he made our natural environment before He made us. staring at the sea or the sky or a tree is a small way to praise Him and reflect on what He has given us to live in, love and protect.
I think the metaphor of a garden is quite apt, as we see references to gardens from the beginning of the Bible with the Garden of Eden. In many ways our souls are gardens, because they must be nurtured in order for them to grow. We must be attentive to our soul’s needs, much as we need to be attentive to the needs of a garden.
Perhaps the rhythms in nature teach us to get out of our own way, not to overanalyze and intellectualize that which may be only what it appears to be. And in the process perhaps we may unwittingly observe something that is profound in its simplicity.
The rhythm of nature teaches me that there is a time for visible growth, and also a time for dormancy. In those times when it seems like nothing is happening( the winter) there is preparation for new growth, Perhaps in my quest to avoid being truly dormant( still) I have missed the opportunity for God to bring about the new growth that I desire. In nature God intends for there to be a caring interaction between nature and humankind. Adam was to tend to the garden. To do so he would have to have intimate knowledge of the properties of all that was in the garden and use that knowledge to bring forth the health and beauty of the garden. I am a garden and I need to submit to the Gardner who knows all that is within me and how healthy and beautiful I can be. Submission is not easy, when I tend to want an instant result rather than going through the process, which requires a time of stillness.
I watched the sun come up this morning and realized that without it our earth would be a cold and barren place. Without God, our spiritual life would be cold and barren and so I asked myself: How can I bring the God of light more fully into my life especially during this time of Lent? What can I give up or do to tend the garden of my soul?
I want to discover the meaning of “to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” To much gets crammed into too little time and space. It may be in the wrong season or it may not need to be there at all.
When I look at nature, I observe its’ balance.There is a time for growing, and a time for resting and a time for preparation. In the late Spring and Summer, gardens flourish, putting the best into their beauty and usefulness. In the Autumn they prepare for a time of rest, putting aside their green leaves and flowers and fruit. In the Winter they rest. preparing for the coming of Spring. In early Spring they prepare for the coming of fruition. I would be like a plant, following its’ natural rhythm and obedience to the seasons of its’ life. Content to be in the time of life that it is experiencing, with peace and, serenity. And, when it is Summer, to be beautiful and useful, in service to the rest of nature.
Each day begins anew; each morning is alive with abundant light that provides warmth, stimulation, guidance, a light that supports growth and clarity. I was struck by the sunshine in my bedroom this morning. It was a new light I had not seen before. It struck a mirror in my room and lightened it in such a brilliant manner. Being open to each day’s renewed light reminds me of being open to new insights, new experiences, a new relationship with God, all of which can be as dazzling and as sunshine on a mirror!
We are now in the season of winter. A time when nature seems to be dormant. But beneath the frozen or half frozen soil new life is already beginning. Bulbs planted in the fall gather food for growth, worms snuggle deep in the earth below the frost line waiting to wiggle as the sun warms the soil in spring. I too snuggle in the long dark days knowing that each day now brings increasing light. Cardinals flit from tree to tree landing on the ground to gather seed thrown out by people their vibrant color brightening the landscape. God’s gift of beauty awes me even in these times of cold and grayness.
I am many things and if my life were represented by a garden, there would be a wide variety of things planted there. A small sampling of vegetables, flowers, and even a small tree or two. My garden would go through periods of over growth; then be cut way back. The soil would be rich and hearty and always ready to grow something new. And probably no matter how diligent my intentions things would get mixed together. No two days are a like for me and therefore my garden would be a mess at times and in order other times. Perhaps in this metaphor, God would be the rain and sunshine. Both would be present at respective and various times and without any pattern or reason. Despite times of drought and too much sun or times of rain and flood, somehow the garden lives and continues on and gets just what it needs when it needs it. I am reminded constantly that what is in my garden is a miracle and a gift.
It’s winter and it’s cold and grey and I don’t like it! But nature is a series of seasons, some more comfortable than others. And such is life – seasons with their own ups and downs and joys and sorrows. If I shy away from the winters and don’t really live them I miss what God has to show me and offer me in those moments. Nature calls me to live every moment and embrace each season of life as it is.
As I reflected on the rhythm of the seasons this morning, I was surprised to come to a clearer understanding that fall is a time of “letting go of the harvest,” so that it might feed the people. It reminds me that “letting go” of “things” has a natural place in the rhythm of my life.
Weeds are inevitible in any garden. They are as natural as the flowers and vegtables, but just like the flowers and veggies, we may pick these but discard rather than savory them. Our garden is not fallen to pieces because weeds exists and neither are we
The ebb and flow of San Francisco Bay informs my understanding of my on again off again relationship to God — sometimes I feel so close to God and other times I forget about God, so aware and so oblivious, so happy and so blah. It can’t always be high tide!
The rythms remind us that there is a time to be active and a time to rest, a time to be productive and a time to lie fallow, a time to stand up for what we think is right and a time to be silent, etc….
For my my garden is not so much a defined plot where I plant vegetables but more the whole symphony of nature around me. I live in a really beautiful area of the Low Country in Beaufort, South Carolina. We have large expanses of salt marsh, tidal rivers and an amazing diversity of greenery including these beautiful spreading live oak trees. Here the beauty that God is seeps into my soul in ways beyond words to understand. There is a deep peace, and a something that reminds to “be still & know.”
There are many artificial patterns imposed on our daily lives. Alarms to get us up. Watches to tell us how much we walk, run or how much sleep we get. Technology to distract us. Technology to make our lives better. This creates such a chasm between us and the natural world. Just the act of waking up naturally is acknowledgment of our body’s own rhythm that it has completed it cycle for restoration.
They might help me see beauty in unexpected places, they might draw me out of myself and into the real present world and help me to focus on a natural order
Besides the seasons of nature, there is the rhythm of day and night. Times of darkness and light and the in-between times of dawn and twilight. The time for worship, work and leisure, community and solitude; the time for rest and refreshment, dreaming and leaving the problems of life and the seeds we have planted in the hands of a wise and loving God. My desire is to follow this natural rhythm in my own life, to rise early with the sun and spend the time in communion with God and myself, to balance my day with work/activity and relating and use the arrival of darkness to slow down, turn off the computer and appreciate leisure before I rest and receive the gifts of the night. As a gardener of my own life, may I accept and appreciate these daily rhythms of planting, cultivating, weeding, watering; may I wait patiently and without anxiety, and with pleasure in the beauty of each phase and with gratitude to God for the mystery and gift of growth.
This is a difficult thing for me to do and I look forward these next few weeks to develop a rhythm with nature. I find my self so busy and in the moment that I fail to look up and around me. This morning there is a fees coating of snow on the ground. What might that mean for me this day as we begin lent. Where are my cold and icy patches and where is God leading me to warmth and renewal.
The rhythms around me are much more subtle than they were when I lived in more moderate climates. Here in Miami, things do not change much from one season to another as a whole. But individually, each plant has a cycle, a way of living, that might not be reflected in the neighbor.
Now is the season for “U Pick ‘Em” fields to be open. But the season for mangoes and avocados has passed. While it is always green in aggregate, individual species of trees drop their leaves at different times of the year. Every school child in Miami will be taught to draw Autumn pictures with orange and red leaves that will not be seen from their windows.
It reminds me to look at the world I live in with my own eyes and to really see what it is like where I am in the moment. There is no “normal” when it comes to how we bloom, when we drop our leaves, or even when we die. Each life will show its own patterns. My life will not be like the others. Even if I am taught to believe that all trees have red leaves, it does not make it true.
When I observe that there is a rhythm or rhythms in nature it reminds me that I too am a creature who naturally and beautifully lives within cycles of birth and death, growth and decay, quiet and active, introspection and production. Lately I have been observing the birds, in early winter, coming to check out the various bird houses in the church garden, just outside my kitchen window. The bluebirds and sparrows are not ready to settle in. They are scouting, looking for a place where in the near future they may breed. This tells me that it is fine and good and necessary for me too to look about my interior and exterior world for the next place to settle my soul.
This week I clipped a rose from my beautiful Mr. Lincoln. As I admired her beauty I was pricked by her thorn. It challenged my thoughts about how I live and the people that pass through my life daily. We all have a story from the garden we have walked. We all have beauty as in rose petals. We all have thorns we use for protection. Is is the balance between I seek to understand from God.
What a lovely thought–thank you!
I wonder if we, as a hurried and harried people, have lost the importance of feasting and fasting. When one considers various flowering plants, one can notice that few of them bloom continuously. Most go through a season of blooming and a season of replenishing itself. Perhaps we, as a people would do well to learn from nature and to get back into the rhythm of the spirit rather than always trying to be productive all the time. It is draining, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Lately I’ve come to think of the Langston Hughes poem Harlem and all the things that might happen to what has lost its vitality. Will it desiccate or putrefy or crust over or soften and sag or maybe burst? And the Christian would add — does it foster new life? Much depends on the leaven, and also whether the germ of new life is present — does the raisin bear seed? What does it take to germinate that seed before other processes kill the life in that seed. And then the fate awaits of what the sower spreads. How many raisins become vines? Enough for the sower to have a harvest. Does the shoot eaten by the deer (Not one of the parable’s options, but certainly one of nature’s) share the glory of the vineyard and the vintage?
Gardening involves me in the cycle of death and resurrection that is God’s creation, and, by observing that cycle as it takes me from barrenness to beauty, I am able to, just for a moment, grasp the true beauty that is God’s love.
Nature is wordless. In the garden, away from language, I can’t worry so well. Plants don’t talk. They don’t worry. They just live.
The Regularity of the Cycles of Nature; the Rhythms of each and every day…even though they consistently repeat their patterns, yet each day, each Season brings forth in diverse ways a new and wondrous mystery. I see a Rule that is grounded in Stability, yet always open to the dynamic of change and adaptation.
I think of my lilacs and peonies. In the spring they blossom which represents life and when they wilt it reminds me of death. To me it represents the cycle of life.
There is a time and place for every thing, a predictable season, always thought w room for the unpredictable. Taking time helps me uncover beauty in the most unlikely places
Gardening is a time of contemplation for me. I love to sit and feel the dirt…to smell the dirt..and I marvel at the transformation of five butternut squash seeds gifting us with enough delicious squash for the entire winter. When I experience the different seasons I marvel how creation (trees, etc.) does not complain but honors the Creator and stands tall in times of greening and bareness and rest.
How might the rhythms I observe in nature inform my life?
Seasonal changes root me with the confidence that the flourishing and loss in my life is but a brief period within my time on earth.
The trees I love so much bare their lines and curves in the winter giving me a glimpse into what must be so evident to God, but is lost to me. My life has a very sturdy trunk as it were with branches reaching out. I would hope that the branches are mostly reaching toward the sky and the home of my heavenly Father, but just as I sometimes see a tree and wonder what happened to shape it so, some of my branches are a bit errant. Just as in nature, even the errant branches return to a path that reaches up. These branches do not look back and wonder what happened, they build on what they have and strive and seek the light.
And then there is that wonder circle of life in nature. The interdependency. While we thank others for their service—in the military, the service industries, the public servants, family members who support us, good neighbors, prayer partners—I think we miss the splendor that is is within our grasp. That is when all humans on earth share in resources and acknowledge the gifts that each bring to the journey of all.
So how does this inform MY life? Holding onto a Bible verse that can carry me through the days of praise and the days of prayer.
Trusting in God to lead me through my doubt about writing and consulting. Praying for strength in my attitude toward money so that I may come from abundance and not from scarcity. Trust just like the tree whose branch has been weighted down by the snow or ice or torn by lightning, trust that time and effort from the very root of my being will carry me up towards the light.
Sharing. Words. Time. Cookies.
Beautiful meditation–thank you for sharing!
What comes to mind is a metaphor of winter and cold as adversity. The natural landscape shrinks in the face of winter, shedding leaves, branches, stems. However, the natural landscape is not dead, but instead is harbors get reserves of energy and life for the more advantageous circumstances for growth of spring and warmer temperatures. I need to think of my own periods of adversity as periods to reflect, renew, rebuild reserves for the upcoming change of circumstances.
I cannot control the rhythms of the seasons. They come and go, and nothing I can do will stop or change that dynamic process. They are a reality in my life that I do not have to manage — they just are — and so often (not all the time, but often) I take them for granted. And yet, what a gift the rhythm of nature is! Life is unfolding all around me, all the time! I pray that this Lent will be a time for me to become newly aware of God’s steady and loving presence in my life, and not to take that for granted either.
Moving to a Mediterranean climate was difficult, I still had the patterns and cycles of a dormant winter and growing summer in my bones. When I should have been planting I was enjoying seed catalogs, my seedlings planted at the right time for my old place withered in the early summer heat.
To learn more about the cycles of this place we started planting natives. We tore out our lawn, removed most of the exotic species that would be so beautiful back east, and found local plants that were adapted to this place. Unfortunately, our city thought they were weeds and we were fined. They were ipset that our plantings looked dead in the fall. At the hearing I asked them if they gave out citations to people who had trees that lost their leaves in the winter. “Of course not, that’s normal!” … for another place, yes. But to support those trees through the summer requires water that is pumped in from other places, destroying those places’ rivers and reducing their wayer supply.
A lesson for me from this is to know my environment, to choose practices that will thrive with available resources, and to do them despite what others believe to be normal and correct. And, also, I might add, to be willing to try things that are not familiar, that I was not raised with, because I am in a different time of my life now than I was then.
Nature always has something brewing, even when we can’t see it. The new life we see in the spring season needed the winter months to set the stage for all the beauty and new baby creatures we get to view. In relating this to life-just because I may appear sedate and quiet on the outside, it doesn’t mean that I am not brewing and creating ideas that will find their own spring at some point.
I am also struck by the idea of the garden. Gardens only have so much space to work in before you run out of room for planting new things. One has to be thoughtful with the items that are planted-making sure the plants can grow in harmony. It is also important to prune and manage the plants for optimum growth; so that one does not overrun or crowd out other types.
In my daily life-I need to pay more attention to the things that I “need”, and to prune out that which only drains me. It is important to have items that feed my soul in some way. Then I have energy to devote to all the things that need me, that I can’t necessarily remove from my “garden”.
The shorter days of light provide much darker reflections — deeper digging into myself. What I face needs to happen but is not always beautiful and sometimes feels as harsh as the frozen ground.
I learned to garden with my grandmother and there is a comfort in that and a joy in that memory, but also a burden and responsibility. I love the digging and starting of seed, but I struggle with the weeding. I feel joy in the harvest and appreciate the farmers who work to provide food.
Flowers escape my work except roses which can be left to their own devices.
I appreciate the sense of renewal and reflection observing the seasons provide and the sun on my face feels great.
I m looking at my current schedule and daily life, and really can’t find much reflection in nature except possibly a plant being forced. I am cramming too much busy into too little time. The natural rhythms of rest are not being respected in my current situation. I hope to regain that needed rhythm in this Lenten season.
Thank you for this thought. I force a few spring bulbs every winter. It’s lovely to have them blooming indoors but it weakens the bulb. After being forced they need to go out into a quiet corner of the garden to rest and rejuvenate for a few years. – We can force ourselves for a while but not indefinitely. Prolonged demands will make us unable to perform our God-assigned duties – unable to bloom!
I look to nature when I talk to God. My outdoor space has always been sacred to me. Each day when I awaken I go outside and thank God for a new day. The comfort I feel being attuned to nature is invaluable to me, and I will attend more diligently to the regularity of the rhythm of life. It is steady, it can be counted on. This end of winter has been very mild where I live. I can look to nature for calm assurance that all things are possible with God.
altho death is indeed an integral part of life there is nothing “simple” about it- it does NOT “simply” change life- the changes it makes are deep and complex- and often very difficult to live through.
The morning light appearing through a netting of bare tree branches out my window displays a grove of trees still in a winter sleep. But that complex system of tree branches cannot keep out the light. Thank you, Father, that within this complex child of yours, I can enjoy the stillness of winter knowing that your light can and does shine through.
When I was coming home from work last night the robins were in the front yard. Where I live in the South the robins only come when Springtime is coming. Sometimes they stay only briefly; other times they stay for a week or two. It is very comforting and a reminder of God’s abundant grace.
This reminds me that things come for a season and then go away, like people and situations in life. Divine order
Some years ago I would work on the large vegetable garden of a friend. I sowed beets from seed. I had fertilized the plot with manure, and I had roto-tilled the place where I had planted the beets. In the soil where I had planted the beet seeds there were also many lamb’s quarter and pig-weed seeds. Well, it was late in May and early in June when I had to get down on my knees to remove the very tiny pig-weed plants and the the very tiny lamb’s-quarter plants while still leaving the juvenile beets in the row. Otherwise the lamb’s-quarter and pig-weed plants which were in the place where I wanted the beets to grow would have overgrown the beets. Sadly the pig-weed and lamb’s quarter were inedible.
In the soil of our life we must look at the tiny beginnings of thoughts and habits that cannot nourish us at the beginning of the growing season so they will not overcome the nourishing plants we need on which to live.
A beautiful metaphor–thank you for sharing!
Our unusually warm winter has allowed me to do a bit more hiking than usual. It’s always a joy to see life in the middle of winter — to see the movement of birds, the running of the water under the stillness of ice, the evergreen plants. Returning last night from a pancake supper, we saw deer tracks in some of the first snow we’ve received this winter. The outward signs of life in nature change, but life is always present. Slowing down, looking more closely, and being open to a quieter and more subtle beauty can lead to instructive observations.
Growing up on a farm, this was natural. There were growing months and harvesting months. The passage of time was clearly marked, whether it was with excitement or with dread. (Hauling hay is hard, y’all.)
As an urban adult, I admit this is not as natural. The weather changes, but my daily routine does not. My job remains the same day day after day. Writing here in February, I anxiously watch the sky to get lighter later in the evening, so I still have seasons of excitement and dread related to the amount of light in a day, but it’s not the physical manifestation that comes with physical labor. It’s not completely without flesh, but there is less incarnation to it.
I’ve recognized since college, when I first experienced the absence of strong seasonal influence, that the liturgical calendar works, to some degree, for restoring a rhythm to life. It’s still fairly abstract and, ironically if you think about it, lacking in the physicality of farming.
I hadn’t thought about it in some time, but this question makes me realize that part of what I lack, what I want is a more physical rhythm to my life. Here in my middle years, as I feel my physical strength to be less than it once was (another sort of season), you remind me what I would like to return to. I’m not a farmer, and it would be foolish of me to try to become one at this date, but surely in my urban environment, I can find some way to add more flesh to my spiritual practice.
The liturgical calendar, which I only came to recognize and honor within the last decade, has become dear to me. Living in a part of the country that offers the full change of seasons, what was once a dreaded and dreary time of year is now Lent, to which I gladly succumb. The burrowing tendency, the prolonged darkness, the stern winter, the drained energy — that is all now opportunity in my mind. I yield to my hermit inclinations and welcome Lent as a time to delve deeply into my life and correct the imbalances that crept in over the last year.
I spend more time in much-welcomed silence, simply sitting with The Presence, expecting and looking for nothing but communion with that lovely stillness.
I consider my relationships, and my conduct within those, and try to banish whatever pettiness or stinginess I find, as The One would have it.
I read more deeply, and allow fewer interruptions.
Honoring Lent, letting it be the opportunity for realignment of my soul, has transformed the dead of winter into one of my favorite times of year. Always longing for God, Lent brings that longing to the forefront. In the dead of winter, having allowed much of my outside life to go fallow, the deepest part of me feels most fully awake and alive and conscious and aware of the goodness that is God.
Your observation that your daily life doesn’t change physically with the weather resonates with me. I also live in a city (hence the name).
If you find ways to add more flesh to your spiritual practice, would you be open to sharing them? I’d like to do the same and welcome suggestions.
When I walk in God’s creation I see abundance, and know that there is more than enough. The variety of seeds, the number of birds, the leaves on each tree; remind me to be generous and encouraging to others.
All living things share the cycle of life. Like a well tended garden, it is up to each person to be conscious and aware of the community around us. As proper soil and care is given to a thriving garden, one must be willing to react and connect to the opportunities that pop up in our garden of life and broaden our garden’s offerings. I add to my garden fence to Be Disciplined- Make Time, Be Kind-Think Outwards, Be Thoughtful-Tune into the feelings surrounding me, Be Reflective-Seek Truth and always Be Positive-Seek the good in all things.
I have loved being in and watching nature since a child. Today I am looking out my window at a dusting of snow that has transformed the world outside. It is beautiful. The snow covers up the ugliness of brown dirt waiting for spring and new life. That is how God works. Salvation and grace cover up and wash away the sin. It reminds me that God is working in me and through me in the ‘down time’ to being new growth, like plants and seeds awaiting the spring.
Just as the Lord has imposed cycles to nature – in and because of our falleness – and we still find amazing beauty and wonder in these daily, seasonal and yearly rhythms – could it not be that the same Lord, “whose property is always to have mercy,” may want to bring beauty out of ordering my otherwise unordered life? I pray it be so.
We live an arid tropical reality, where water is a commodity of very high and cherished value. So most gardens have a natural look, consisting of endemic shrubs, here and there some added potted plants and occasionally a spread of tropical fruit trees(like guavas, soursop) trees. Our small garden has a few fruit trees and a treasured tall 20years plus Areca Palm Tree. Lately this palm has been showing some signs of weariness: some of the stems and the leaves started to wither and die. We became concerned that we would lose the palm. So, decided to remove all the weeds surrounding, also the parts that looked unhealthy to prevent further damage to the palm. We did a vitamin treatment. To date there has been a major visible change in appearance and condition of the palm.
On a spiritual level, this experience teaches what can happen if too many things(weeds and lack of nurturing)pile up and entwine around our lives. Just as we can see plants at work in the outer world, in the inner world, we can have problematic issues that prevent a rich spiritual life from developing. These could include the constant drains on our time, the things that cloud our inner vision (television, politics and media are particularly bad about this, at least for me), living too closely to the destructive patterns of consumerism and industrialization, and more. If we are not careful, these constant drains will prevent us from enjoying a richer spiritual life. Because the life of the trees of our inner sacred grove may become gradually threatened, whither and simply die, as in the case of the Areca Palm
I find that the change of seasons comforts me and I live a fuller life in a part of the country where I can experience them. I see the earth as being fully alive but resting in winter and I see that there are times in my life when I need to rest to be ready for whatever is next.
Death is a part of life. I watch nature go dormant in the winter, seeds die. I love watching life come into being during the spring. Beginning with tiny buds. My life seems to follow this pattern also. I need to let go of some things, let them fall away, even die so that new growth can begin. Death is a continuation of life in different form.
By paying attention to the order, and rhythm of the earth. The changing seasons, the cyclic year, the ground under our feet, and the wind that can blow soft and gently, or strong and bitterly. Each new year, or new cycle, brings new opportunities to connect with the earth and all that is in it, and to connect with, and have a relationship with God.
This time of year, when we are waiting for the time when gardens will be growing again, reminds me of the value of a quiet time of waiting, that I might accept this time as a gift and use it for reflection and preparation.
Absolutely. The downtime of winter is a time of preparation and renewal. When we follow the wisdom of the seasons, we allow ourselves that downtime as well.
Some years ago, we decided to start keeping chickens. Chickens have to have a specific amount of light per day in order to stimulate their laying hormones, an amount that is not possible in winter. At first, we followed the suggestion to give them supplemental light in the winter to help them keep laying, and all seemed fine.
Then came a time when an odd malady started invading the flock. We researched, asked other chicken owners, and tried everything we could find to do, but the situation worsened. We started losing birds, and the daily chicken tending chores were too often accompanied by yet another burial. No one seemed to know what it was, not even our county extension agent. The best guess was “some sort of mite,” a thing healthy birds can usually fend off, but which can kill a bird with diminished resources.
So we went back to basics, observing nature, and asking what changes were needed to give the flock the support it needed to recover and thrive. We changed their food to an organic one, put electrolytes in their water supply and used an enclosed waterer to keep it cleaner. And…we stopped all supplemental lighting in winter, allowing their bodies to rest as God made them.
Not only did they recover, they are back to thriving.
We, too, need our seasons of rest and renewal, a thing modern life frowns on. Like chickens, the usual structure of working life asks us to do and be more, all the time. Lay More Eggs! Lay More Eggs! And, also like chickens, the constant strain of having to produce those eggs causes us to be less resilient even to small pressures, the mites of our lives. That builds up over time, and what feels like a sudden ailment that hit “out of the blue” is often the culmination of living forever set on the “Produce!” setting.
Thank God for the wisdom of chickens!
What a great, real example. As I read your reply, I thought about my dad, who also raised chickens. He also followed the rhythm of the seasons in his life.
Thanks! I think that being in tune with that rhythm does lead to a more sustainable way of living. We used to live in the DC area where it was on Go all the time. We literally had two hours per night where it was quiet enough to sleep without background white noise or sound deadening ear muffs! There is a huge difference between there and here in the country farming community where we live now. The rhythms are more closely followed as a rule, just naturally. Work starts early and finishes in time for supper — except during crunch times for the farmers, such as planting or harvest when the weather has been uncooperative. Don’t call anyone after 8pm or so, and go to bed right after the chickens do!
Thanks so much. I watch trees which are plentiful in Portland, Oregon. They rest in the winter. Then they begin preparing–but just a little bit at a time. Then there’s so much foliage, sometimes overwhelming even while giving shade. Then glorious color. Then time to rest. Bare branches and silhouettes. I can see so far. And it all comes ’round again. Thank you, God!
NA, I’m going to put “Thank God for the wisdom of chickens” on a piece of paper at my desk at work.
There is a time to lay eggs and a time not to lay eggs.
Thank you for this vital reminder.
I’m glad your chickens have recovered and are thriving.
I am up before daybreak, beginning my morning in the early darkness. I welcome the Dawn with a small prayer, mark the rising of the sun and note the phase of the moon. Throughout the day I watch the neighborhood flock feeding on my deck, learning much about bird behavior in the natural world. I live in the mountains, walk into the valleys, visit the creeks and the mighty river, feeling Wind and listening to Water Music. I watch the daily change of the seasons and weather. This has become my habit over the past five years.
The natural world is resilient and weathers the storms
The natural world displays its beauty in each season
When a seed dies it multiplies, what seeds am I sowing?
Jim, the resilience of the garden popped up in my mind too. The soil, seeds and plants don’t fight or rail against the weather, they just takes it all as it comes and deal (although sometimes we humans intervene to help). And the ground still produces fruit. Sometimes the weather damages the crop, or pests do, but there is still always fruit.
God our creator gives us new days, new seasons and new years where we are witnesses to renewal and rebirth. God our father gives us a lifetime of opportunity for renewal and rebirth and time for amendment of life through the extravagant sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I love your reflection here, Angela! I see renewal and rebirth in the garden too.
I’ve gardened since I was a child digging beside my parents. For me, the garden is a meditation & is a place for meditation. I find when I start to dig & plant & weed, I am transported to another place. I don’t recognize time, hear voices (much to my husband’s consternation) or see anything but what is directly before me. The plant in my hand, the trowel, the soil, the worms, the slugs. It is all such a joy! For me, the garden is not a metaphor for life & death. It tells me much more about life & nourishing life than about its ending.
Death is not the end of life. It simply changes it.
Watching my garden, which is filled with perennials, bloom extravagantly in the summer and then die down in the fall, only to come to life again in the spring is a reminder of the rhythm of life and death. Death in the fall is not the end for my garden. In fact, the flowers spread and return with new vigor in the spring. This cycle encourages me to remember that death is part of life. Death is by no means the end, and in fact I am reminded that you cannot have new life without going through death of some kind.
I so enjoy working in my garden. Cleaning out the weeds, clipping the flowers so they can grow to their best and fertilizing them to be healthy and happy. After death comes renewal and a new life. A chance to grow, start over and add new experiences we’ve learned to new life.