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In the garden of your life, what is thriving and what is not?

Phase 1: Rule of Life & Rhythm of Nature
Workbook Exercise: Other Garden Plots

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Transcript of Video:

In this series we are growing a Rule of Life, using gardening as our primary metaphor. What is it like to garden, to plant something? Imagine you are planting flowers or vegetables, something you planted last year or perhaps something new. Where are you planting? How much space do you have – a full yard or maybe you are in an apartment? What is the climate you are in, what is the season, what can grow where you are now? Then once you do plant, how do you help things grow? What do they need to survive – water, nutrients, sunlight? How do you protect what you have planted, perhaps with a fence? Perhaps things need to be cut back at times, pruned, in order to produce fruit. And then you get to enjoy and harvest and look forward to sustained further growth for next time.

Here as we consider Rule of Life we are looking at practices – what’s most important to us and how to plant them and help them grow. So what is a life practice you want to include? You may have many you want, but what space do you have and what climate or season are you in? Then what does it take to help nurture that? What will feed your practice and what boundaries do you need to put in place in order to actually grow? What must be let go of or cut back in order to produce fruit? Then how do you enjoy and how do you also sustain and consider what you might plan next?

– Br. Luke Ditewig

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113 Comments

  1. Richard A Dixon on August 17, 2017 at 11:49

    In my garden it’s Autumn. The garden has become overgrown, and the weather is uncertain – perhaps extremes of alternating heavy rain then long periods of hot sun! Meanwhile the gardener’s enthusiasm is waining, and coping with the irritating pests is trying his patience.
    Perhaps it’s time to dig up the plants that are ‘high maintenance’; time for the gardener to sit back a little and enjoy the beauty that remains. And switch the phone off.
    He didn’t used to be so grumpy?

  2. Skye on March 9, 2016 at 20:56

    I’ve been reading through all these marvelous reflections and finding great soothing inspiration and insight in them. I live in the city and have no garden of my own. Even flowers people give me don’t last long in their shallow pots and murky vases. I feel barren of fruit or flower. I feel crowded in the city, and alone. I yearn to get my hands in the dirt and to enjoy the process of nurturing life into being. I need to find a spot of earth, of tangible certainty, that is my own, whether actual or metaphorical. After many attempts at finding that spot in the sunlight where my talents can bloom, I am beginning to think there is no certainty but in what we make together as thoughtful creatures, and in the grace of love. The grace of God can reach me anywhere if I turn to it. My weeds are doubt and despair, my someday sometime flowers are in the ability to hold a kind of mystical stillness, like that curled deep in the whorl of a rose, or in sweet floral aromas. May God help me to provoke peace as I relate to myself and others. May God bless me with faith in my right to garden.

  3. Mir on February 26, 2016 at 12:42

    This is exactly what I’ve spent the last eight months trying to understand – what is thriving, what is not – and of those things, what of them are bindweed and chokeweed and really, harmful to me no matter how healthy they look.

    I’m a franciscan who got far too deeply into my idea of what St. Francis asked of himself and lost track of both what he asked of others and of his own repentance late in life that he should have been kinder to himself/his body.

  4. Donna on February 22, 2016 at 22:52

    Family and work are thriving. Prayer life is not. That is part of what I’m working on for this iteration of my rule of life.

  5. Margaret on February 21, 2016 at 19:33

    What is thriving?
    +Dedication to some form of physical exercise 6 days a week. (aerobic, strength, stretch)
    +Practice of healthy eating habits most days. (fruits,veggies, lean animal protein, plant based and dairy proteins and fats, complex carbohydrates.)
    +Try to thank God every morning for bringing me into the day and ask him to work with me all day.
    +Desire to play the flute in church, in concert band, or anywhere.
    +Desire to be around people of like interest (recovery, art and music) and be uplifting.
    +Desire to keep learning

    What is not thriving?
    +Cannot engage in intense exercise.
    +Enthusiasm for leading exercise classes and motivating people to enjoy the fun in dance based exercise and music. Adaptation to limitations is hard right now
    + Industrious, on the go attitude to get things accomplished and feel satisfied
    +Daily Meditation
    +Feeling guilty about not spending time with some people who need me…. Mama, Frances,

  6. Alan Rollins on February 20, 2016 at 13:47

    What often doesn’t thrivie in my life is patience, ambition and tolerance. These things, I am discovering late in life, can change in a positive way by simply participating more in life. In the words of Popeye: “I am what I am;” but what I am can change with help from the people who are trying to help, and acknowledging them, and begin to pull me away from a lifetime of sloth and apathy. My relationship with God seems also to be thriving, more so lately; there is not a day that goes by now where God is not in my head. I need Him so much to drag me away from those actions that do me harm.

  7. Marsha on February 18, 2016 at 21:16

    As usual, I am a little behind.This series has come at just the right time for me. I guess I am in sync with nature because my season is winter. This is the time for me to reflect on what I have done this past year and to think about what seeds to plant in the coming spring, so it is a time of reflection and planning. It is time for me to go back to the basics. I planted too many seeds last year and not many survived because I couldn’t nurture them all. I want to focus on one thing in each area: mind. body and spirit.

  8. Debbie on February 17, 2016 at 14:02

    In my life I have given up working our side of the home. It was effecting my health not being able to move, go where I need to, have time to exercise. Have time to take care of my self. I was tired when I came home and had no energy to take care of the things in my life that needed taken care of. So I gave up what little income I was making in order to put my time and resource to better use. I have taken up learning to play the piano. I am available should my out of town children need me. I can get my husbands needed medications and use the time to save money by having the time to look for and find those items that we need. I can think. I can take the time to do what I have to.

  9. Joanne on February 16, 2016 at 21:44

    We have found a strong new church home, very supportive and yet still challenging. However, retiring away from home and family still feels lonely. Having moved many times, I know it takes time and for me, courage to make those connections I need.

    • a city monk on February 18, 2016 at 11:02

      so, you have moved your rootbound -ness to a new and larger pot giving you space to grow into. Transplanting is such a harsh process! Cutting the bound roots so they can open to nutrients they are hungry for, reaching into the fresh soil rich and fresh… so much to do below the soil before that first new post transplant leaf appears.
      God gives the growth ehh, and we endure the process…
      peace and all good…

  10. Muriel Akam on February 16, 2016 at 12:58

    In my garden I hope to cultivate relationships more- to keep in touch with friends, and family regularly. My own children, and grandchildren have taken up so much time that I have neglected others.My garden was looking bleak about 7 years ago- illness, loss of husband’s job , son’s illness but all of these problems have been overcome with God’s guidance and help. These challenges brought me nearer to God and I see His help everyday and our Lord’s teachings too. I am now healthy, my husband is thriving in a new job, my son is sooo much better that I feel I can now move outwards and reach out to people. I can now cultivate a more spiritual life and even have a different perspective to my difficult times- see it as a blessing .

  11. Mimi on February 15, 2016 at 22:59

    Prayer, rhythm of rest renewal cycles, use of time to truly hear the mind of Christ in all my busyness

  12. Debbie McMahon on February 15, 2016 at 07:40

    I will practice balancing the care of others with the care of myself, realizing that ultimately, they are one and the same practice.

  13. Debbie McMahon on February 15, 2016 at 07:32

    I feel as if I am struggle to thrive in a world with others. I need to moderate new relationships so I am not overwhelmed, while attending to the care and nurture of these new relationships. I am spent soil. Renewing and replenishing my spirit includes renewing the soil and caring for the plants in my life. My confidence is not thriving. I will pray to thrive. I will, with God’s help.

  14. Eugene Wright on February 14, 2016 at 23:43

    In my garden, my relationships in my Church are thriving. I am a lay Eucharistic minister and visitor, I am in the process of organizing the Men’s Group with the goal of becoming members of The Brotherhood of St Andrews. I have also just ben made a Postulant in the Deaconate process of our Diocese!! Things that have not been thriving due to the fact that I have quite an extensive amount of weeds and I am praying for Gods help to strengthen me with courage and determination to clear all these weeds.

  15. susan zimmerman on February 14, 2016 at 19:19

    …Love thrives in my garden…sometimes it’s only an annual and then there are perennials…Love is very patient with tough hardcore seeds, that lie in the darkness of Gods’ earth, you check, water, and look wondering when and if they will ever sprout…much less produce fruit that one might see in this life? Only God knows what is happening in the dirt…but a tzzadick sprout sooner or later will come forth…

  16. Tal Day on February 13, 2016 at 17:07

    In the years since I have retired, I have devoted attention to things that I could not address at all or only sporadically while laboring in the vineyards. My life now revolves much more around interests and social concerns that I have had for many years and discharge of specific obligations that I willfully assumed more than 30 years ago.

    Sources of satisfaction I find in all these activities are the opportunities they afford to draw on my experience and skills in ways that have value for others. I also find gratifying the opportunities afforded to learn new skills, e.g., the technologies associated with the WordPress content management system. On a daily basis, I experience both a deep sense of gratitude and opportunities to pursue a lifelong love of learning.

    What I find more challenging is creating necessary time to learn new skills in depth. Age in itself is a challenge in this respect because I no longer learn new skills as quickly. I am coping, but looking for ways to get better.

  17. Linda on February 13, 2016 at 15:13

    It’s time for a new garden, to plant new seeds, different plants, flowers, shrubs, herbs, whatever. It is time to let nature support those seeds that take root and grow. I can only mentor them by weeding, feeding and watering when necessary. The plants of the past are not all withering, but many are no longer thriving as before. The need to be pruned back and tended to see if they will rebound or die. Such is nature, such is life.

  18. LaurieR on February 13, 2016 at 11:09

    I have been working with a Garden metaphor for my spiritual journey for several years now. God is my Gardener, and He tills my soil, nourishes me, prunes me, pours the sunshine down on me. He transplanted me into this plot several years ago from a location where I could not thrive. So yes, the garden metaphor really works well for me.
    What’s thriving: my personal spiritual growth, due to having already established a Rule of Life which guides me like the trellis in the garden.
    What’s not thriving: I find it most difficult to apply the Rule to my work life. I love my work and find it hard to say No, and so work takes over my thoughts and life.

  19. Julia on February 13, 2016 at 10:52

    In the garden of my life the love plants are thriving, paradoxically because of some challenging life events that reminded me of my need for humility and of my vulnerability. I learned that the anxiety weed wants to choke out the love plants. I learned to use prayer and meditation to put that anxiety outside of myself and get it over to God. However, I also found the weed control is most effective when the prayer and meditation are regular. Sometimes my busy life gets in the way of regular meditation and this I would like to avoid. One way I could do that is to always end my day with a meditation/prayer . Even if I am tired after a long day, I think I could find time for that.

  20. Julia on February 13, 2016 at 10:45

    In the garden of my life, love is thriving in a new way, paradoxically after some life challenges that reminded me of my need for humility and of my vulnerability. In some places the love plants are threatened by weeds. The weeds are competitive feelings I have with my siblings, or maybe just weeds of resentment that build stubbornly over a life time. I would like to control those weeds better. The love plants that are thriving are especially free from the noxious anxiety weed, which I have learned to control better by placing that anxiety outside myself (to God). Learning to do this has been one of the most freeing experiences of my life. Daily meditation/prayer feeds the love and limits the anxiety weed – if I’m disciplined enough to do it!

  21. a city monk on February 12, 2016 at 22:50

    In this series we are growing a Rule of Life, using gardening as our primary metaphor. What is it like to garden, to plant something?

    With native scape gardening it is “inviting” what already belongs in the soil to come and celebrate a space. So while I may yearn for plants not native to this place — I am here now — and opening my heart like opening the soil for planting is about acceptance, acceptance, acceptance… seed by seed… one seed at a time.
    Imagine you are planting flowers or vegetables, something you planted last year or perhaps something new. Where are you planting? How much space do you have – a full yard or maybe you are in an apartment?

    So much has been established plantings but even native plants have life cycles and need uprooting and replacing with young plants. Hard, to accept that aging is part of the cycle, and death comes to the garden too.

    What is the climate you are in, what is the season, what can grow where you are now?

    I am tremendously out of sync with the seasons. In the desert it is the winter garden that will thrive and early spring too with a small resting between… Ordinary time — those weeks of heat when a bird or a bug would look at my tomatoes like a canteen placed in the desert just to save one more from the drought. Foolishly, I have fought accepting…that I am living in the desert not the mountain top with the lush of evergreens that just go on month after month no stress no strain…resting in the indwelling presence of God.

    Then once you do plant, how do you help things grow? What do they need to survive – water, nutrients, sunlight?
    It takes deep commitment! and trust and deepening of roots — like trees planted by rivers — everything in a desert garden sinks deeper roots in the mysteries of the Word of God, The Sacraments, The Eucharist…

    How do you protect what you have planted, perhaps with a fence?
    By staying focused on the indwelling presence of God, by not turning away, by trusting the will of God in my life.

    Perhaps things need to be cut back at times, pruned, in order to produce fruit.
    Even the tree that bares no fruit for many years… is a call for deeper caring for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and how… gifts unfold into the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, into the Beatitudes into a Eucharistic life. Enlarge my heart according to your will oh Lord

    And then you get to enjoy and harvest and look forward to sustained further growth for next time. There is no… done! tah dah… ever present..

    Here as we consider Rule of Life we are looking at practices – what’s most important to us and how to plant them and help them grow. So what is a life practice you want to include?

    Awaken to the gift of this call to the desert. The practices,that pride allowed me to treat as “making” God Present, now celebrated in the humility of praise and thanksgiving.

    You may have many you want, but what space do you have and what climate or season are you in?
    An abundance of everything thing I need for the season of today.

    Then what does it take to help nurture that?

    Trust….that I already am where God looks for me.
    What will feed your practice and what boundaries do you need to put in place in order to actually grow? I get weary and turn to “drive thrus” junk food and pretend that I am eating “food” when only hours later the “McD” will make me sick.

    Do I call out , Lord come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me. No… I don’t. I just cave in…

    What must be let go of or cut back in order to produce fruit? turn my heart to what the Lord taught us to call fruit in the Beatitudes and those qualities that Scripture named as the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s Gifts. Open my heart to humility and be grateful for the grace to amend my life.
    Then how do you enjoy and how do you also sustain and consider what you might plan next? Blessed are the poor in spirit… embrace poverty, embrace humility with my whole heart…. wait on the Lord to answer me.

  22. Stan on February 12, 2016 at 22:18

    I have learned over that years that I am no gardener. I love good gardens, but I don’t have the patience, skills, or fortitude to grow one. But maybe if I plant some new seeds of faith and caring into my dry soul and tend them carefully and deliberately, I can sprout some fresh, new life in myself. What is thriving right now? My will to grow and nurture a more mature Godliness withnin me, and my desire to share my blessings with others. What is not thriving is my attempts to overcome impatience, my lack of compassion, and my unintended but very real prejudices. My “hermitic” tendencies seem to be doing pretty well, but I don’t know if those were cultivated, or old weeds.

  23. Shane on February 12, 2016 at 20:55

    What’s thriving is a new energy and vigour to take control of the garden of my work life and take charge of the gardening tools! However, also a willingness that I need others to help tend the garden to keep it under control.

    What’s not thriving? Laughter. More laughter I think is needed in my garden. I hear it makes for healthy plants and healthy gardeners, but so difficult to do when working among the the thorny branches of frustration and stress.

  24. TainuiTony on February 12, 2016 at 20:42

    I have been reflecting on my love of gardening and what it is that gives so much pleasure. We have just shifted house from a large family home to a comfortable town house with a smaller garden. Over the busy years of raising 4 children the ability to linger in the garden was much reduced. I thought during those years that I had lost the interest altogether. Having moved, as the children are now adults, I have rediscovered the thrill of planting and looking after both food and flowers. For me it has always been the portal through which we pass to see the face of God in all its diversity. I am aware of autonomous communities in the natural world, the vegetable community, the flower community, the tree community and the insect community and how we don’t really understand these communities that live together in reciprocal relationships with each other and in apparent harmony. It reminds me of times on a beach and you see a group of gulls standing together and they are approached by one of their kind from another place. The resident birds invariably open up their group to let the newcomer enter. Then they all settle down again. It seems like they know that newcomer is welcome and there is little fuss. My wish is to understand my place within my community and my community’s place alongside all the other communities we live with. I am not looking for intellectual knowledge of this but for an ever present experience of place and how to live in that space.

  25. Paul on February 12, 2016 at 17:36

    What is thriving for me right now is my commitment to conscious contact with God and to meditation and ceaseless prayer — not that I always keep that commitment but it is almost always at the forefront of my mind. What is not thriving is (a) the discipline to get to bed early so that I can dedicate my early hours to God, and (b) my peace of mind, which meditation has not yet been able to provide — anger frequently gets in the way. I have hope that a more disciplined prayer life will open the pathway to a peace which the world cannot give. For this I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

  26. Jane Anne Gleason on February 12, 2016 at 12:34

    The thing that is growing best in my garden of life is my love for my husband and his for me. We have had good times and bad times but, right now we are having the best times of our 40 years of marriage. We have learned to tend the relationship, pulling out the weeds, planting new seeds, gently culling and watering what we now have. Our marriage is the best gift God has given to me.

    Together we are concerned about our youngest son. We held him up to God in our prayers but have difficulty agreeing on how best to help him move on to more independence and maturity. Yes, he has had a hard road but, in my eyes it has be the result of his bad choices and I feel he needs to take ownership of his problems and not rely on us to support him (financanly) nor let him continue to live with us. This issue is the rocks and weeds that need attention in our garden.

    To this end both my husband and I pray together the Serenity Prayer reminding us to listen to God’s guidance as we move forward with our son and remember to be thankful for the love we share with each other and our son.

  27. Russell on February 12, 2016 at 08:56

    I recognize what is not thriving much more readily than what is growing vigorously. These are dead patches in my day, disruptions in my practice. I fuss over relationships gone sour, self- doubt and distraction. I slip away from quiet intention, peacefulness, gratitude and forgiveness. I cling to the things I do that matter to me, and do not cleave to the things that matter to God. My garden needs sunshine.

  28. Jim Foley on February 12, 2016 at 08:45

    I like the metaphor involving space used in this video message. One area where I would like to grow is to be kinder to other people and not to get angry or hurt as easily as I sometime do. I would thus like to grow as a person and not hold a grudge.

  29. Shirley Schuette on February 11, 2016 at 22:12

    Reading down through the comments, I’m surprised at how many people are in a very similar situation to mine – I’m not retired yet, although I could at any time. Right now I think that the soonest I would retire would be 2 years from now (when I get my car paid for), but I may not then. I already have quite a bit of free time, since I live alone, and my family is at a distance, and I don’t feel like I use that time particularly productively. That is one of the things I hope to change in developing a rule and living by it. I am in transition in other ways also. I stepped back from an area of service at my church a few months ago and haven’t been sure what is next. In fact I’m not even sure I will stay with the same community. That’s another thing I am looking for direction on. So, it seems like I’m saying that not much in my garden is thriving. I don’t feel strong, but I do know that I won’t give up. Commitment is there, but maybe thriving is too strong a word for it.

  30. Donald Sutton III on February 11, 2016 at 19:23

    For me praying the daily office (morning, Evening and compline) are my major practices that are helping me to grow in my life. In fact when I have fell asleep before I can do compline which has happened a few times it feels like part of me is missing. Another practice that is causing my to grow is studying the Bible or other meterial on spiritual life. There are two things that I want to bring into my life that aren’t thriving is a ministry and the right meditation. I am struggling to find a ministry and to find the right meditation form and these are important additions I crave to have in my spiritual journey.

  31. Sarah M. Braik on February 11, 2016 at 18:17

    Just as people tend to have pet dogs that resemble themselves, I live my life much as I tend my garden, big plans, resolutions to do it just right, to fertilize and weed and prune, though I prepare the ground hastily and sloppily, plant the seeds unevenly so I have spots of bare earth and huge clumps of seedlings  interspersed throughout the rows. I don’t rake the earth very well, so the plants have to work harder to grow their roots deep into the ground. I tell myself this makes them hardy, better able to tolerate adversity. I leave the kale, basil, arugula, cilantro and other salad green plants standing as long as possible, just harvesting leaves here and there. A lot goes to waste. 
    Just so, my life. I tend to pile up the seeds of my prayer life in the morning, and leave the rest of my day somewhat bare, spiritually speaking. Morning prayer and meditation are pretty much staples, though I don’t fully harvest their fruits. When I do journal – and I had to make it my Lenten duty in order to hold  myself to the daily writing – I tend to stay on the surface, not taking the trouble to follow a thought through, but flit on to the next one, much as I weed, or water, or fertilize – too quickly and not thoroughly enough. Even now that I have written a rather extended thought, I am eager to get on the next thing, to exercise and have a bedtime snack and lie in bed reading. I have such difficulty immersing myself in one task without thinking ahead to the next one. This is an area of my life where I am not thriving. Where I am thriving is what I put into my various volunteer activities, although here too I have to start a task way ahead of time because I can’t spend any length of time devoted to one thing, but have to frequently break to go on to something else. I can’t decide if this is really a problem or not. I have a short attention span, and I could look at it that I have found ways to get things done, and usually fairly well, despite this handicap. Actually, my life is much better balanced than it had been for a very long time. I’m still a bit too busy but do make room to eat well, to sleep, to read and to communicate with friends and relatives. And look here, I wrote two huge paragraphs!

  32. Susan on February 11, 2016 at 18:02

    I am in the fall of my life and I need to trim back my harvest through the years to make my garden to grow stronger. This takes a lot of work and preparation but I bet my season would be filled with sunshine rather than clouds

  33. Merrill Ann Gonzales on February 11, 2016 at 17:11

    My garden grows only groundhog pups. She’s in her tunnel this winter and out will pop 3-8 pups in spring.

    seed catalog –
    planning what to feed
    my groundhog

    It’s good to lose what’s not growing and to move on to what is.

  34. michele b. on February 11, 2016 at 16:53

    My thinking is similar to Jane’s. Self…Self. A word that was verboten in my Roman Catholic upbringing.

    I was reminded of an incident from about four years ago. A bird made her nest in a plant on a stand by our front door. The plant and the nest co-existed well together. She hatched three babies and we enjoyed watching her drop tidbits into their open mouths. The heat was unrelenting, but the front entry was shaded. And then the mama bird just wasn’t there…for several days. The babies would turn their heads upward and open and close their mouths. On the third morning my mother told me the babies were either dead or right on the edge. She said the mother has been killed. (I’ve always marveled at my mother’s intuitive knowledge of plants and animals, having grown up with farming folk.) I couldn’t bear it so we went on a mad search for a rescue group. One was found and they took the babies, put dropper-fulls of water in their mouths and fed them each their own cricket. They revived immediately.

    When at the monastery in December, I picked up a copy of Weavings that was on the topic of self-love.

    Since that time, I have consciously watched how easy it is for me to take care of other creatures and yet absolutely ignore my need for sleep and a break from my care giving responsibilities. I need to prune my late night computer “catch-up” work and to learn to take a break from my mother when I just need silence. I am that baby bird…needing that water. I could feed myself if I was more aware. I want to be more aware. Fortunately, in the interim, I get a tidbit from someone else who I see in that moment as the face of God, reminding me it’s okay to care for myself and that I don’t have to stint on that aspect of living.

  35. Mryka on February 11, 2016 at 16:31

    Many years ago I helped run a small orchard and nursery business. Our emphasis was on thoroughly planting the young trees in rich soil and pruning them to establish strong supporting side branches, not too many and not too few and angled so that the fruit could get the most sunlight. Now I have an apple tree that i9s about 15 years old,. and bearing well I(if blossom time has been nice weather). I realize I don’t have much idea on how to prune the mature, growing tree, beyond stopping all the tangled shoots that spring up in some years. Should I remove major branches that are large enough to crowd out others now? I need to direct the fruiting branches downwards so I can harvest them, but not so low that nobody can walk under them (the tree is in a small city backyard). I’ve seen orchards pruned for commercial production, but what should do with my one tree? This dilemma is like a rule of life as I head in a few years into (late) retirement: what will best support continued fruiting, and make the fruit somewhere I and everyone I meet is able to pick and enjoy them in the fall. The rules of earlier in life don’t seem quite adequate, and I am not looking to maximize production at any cost.

  36. Damon Hickey on February 11, 2016 at 15:44

    I don’t really garden; I landscape. Our house is surrounded by an acre of grove, glen, and glade, surrounded by a much larger community of houses, lakes, and woods, which we share with a variety of wildlife—all within our city limits. When we bought this property three years ago, we named it “Forest Green.” Many of its decorative plantings had become rank and overgrown. The house’s central courtyard was a paved desert. And the landscape timbers that formed the steps and terrace walls along the hillside were decaying under a cover of vines. A major landscape renovation was needed, and with the help of a landscaping company and other specialists, we “limbed up” trees, built sidewalks and paths, installed railings, repaved the courtyard and built low walls to create spaces for small trees and perennial plants, removed shrubs and added new ones, planted more trees to halt erosion, enclosed part of the property with a split-rail fence to give our dog a safe place to play, and placed garden sculpture and benches throughout the grounds to create meditation spaces. In the house, which is filled with windows, we removed curtains and drapes to open up our view of our surroundings and to merge the indoors with the outdoors. All of these activities have analogs in my life: collaborating with God and others to shape my inner landscape, working within the contours and structures of my personality, modifying (sometimes drastically, sometimes modestly) what’s already growing, pulling up what has become rank and overgrown, planting anew, enclosing some spaces, and opening up new vistas to bring inner and outer closer together.

  37. Christopher Buckley on February 11, 2016 at 14:55

    My creativity, passion, and drive are flourishing.
    My attentiveness, patience, and compassion are not.
    My strength, self-reliance, and professional life are.
    My peace, centeredness, and prayer life aren’t.

    I’m a musician by profession and vocation, which means that I spend a lot of time and energy delving into the creative and wild parts of my self/heart/soul/whatever. It also means that I often get to wrapped up in the music and everything that surrounds it that I forget to care – to care for others, for myself, for my world.

    I make music for and with the people of God (specifically, an ELCA congregation in Oregon) and that’s a blessing beyond blessings – but my life is… unrooted. All the activity I do, all the rehearsing and performing and conducting and teaching – it’s not built on a particularly solid spiritual/emotional foundation.

    So, here’s to growing a Regula – in hopes that the Shoot of Jesse may be the Root of Christopher.

  38. Kristi on February 11, 2016 at 14:37

    In my garden of life, I would say most of my plots in the past had been devoted to others. Now those plots don’t require as much care because, hopefully, I’ve given them what they need to thrive and grow on their own. Now, I have been introducing more self-care plots. Long neglected, I’ve truly started tending to myself and trying to grow in areas not nourished for a long time. My health, emotional life and spirit have begun to take root and start to sprout. What used to feel as selfish is now seen as healthy because I am truly caring for myself. I know now there is a big distinction between living selfishly and caring for one’s self.

  39. Jane on February 11, 2016 at 13:26

    Right now it is winter, a time to take stock and to plan. In my life I am also looking ahead to transitions and changes. I am making plans.
    To have an abundant life, as in gardening, planning is key. But planning, whether of life or a garden, is also based on the unknown and hope. Will there be enough rain? Will I remember to fertilize? Will the seeds sprout? But I hope for good outcomes and I hold to the promise that if I nourish my garden, I will be nourished in turn.
    The unknown and hope, it seems to me, are the basis of faith as well. We cannot know God fully. A part of him remains a mystery, but we hold onto His promise. We hope that if we can nourish others and be nourished by them, we will receive God’s nourishment as well.

  40. Robin Weisbrod on February 11, 2016 at 12:54

    What is thriving in my life? My faith in God and His good works. My Church life, while still in recovery mode from upheaval, new growth is slowly coming and I am doing my best to cultivate and fertilize where I can. My personal life, my great-grandson, who I am raising with my husband, and is a joy in our life, watching him absorb all that is around him, watching us as we do daily Morning Prayer and pray before dinner, and knowing the seeds of spirituality have been firmly planted in this garden.

  41. Susie on February 11, 2016 at 12:42

    Chaos thrives. Order is but an idea. Finding time to hold myself accountable to some daily time instead of caring for others or just flopping down exhausted. I would love to establish a rule that allows me to see peace in chaos and relax into the unknown.

  42. David Andrews on February 11, 2016 at 12:30

    What is thriving and what is not in my rule of life? At the moment my garden is rich and productive as I am giving myself and hour each morning in meditation/daily office/spiritual reading. This centers my day. What is not thriving is difficult to answer at the moment. An area that I paid attention to last week while on retreat was a deep sense of Jesus’ presence in my life especially when faced with difficult conversations. How do I stay centered in my rule when conflict arises and I am able to be at peace in the midst of hard conversations.

  43. Janine ter Kuile on February 11, 2016 at 12:26

    Having reached the place in life where I am semi-retired, I am transitioning to more free time. I struggle with having more time to reflect and pray & not having a routine, or place to go to every day to fulfill my work responsibilities. At the same time, I am overjoyed with more time to engage in conversation with God. Being spiritually inclined, I know it is important not to rush this transition, but to sit with God and listen for suggestions to how I should use my time. I have to remember to be intentional about my decisions and take time to just ‘be’. In these moments I feel the Holy Spirit residing within me. Prompting me to rejoice and feel gratitude for the quiet and peace I now have in my life. In gratefulness to God and the Brothers for this time of renewal and grace in my life.

  44. Lisa on February 11, 2016 at 11:39

    I have the luxury to be able to quit a part time job that is no longer nourishing me in order to have more space in my life. My intention for this year is to devote more time to self-reflection, meditation and prayer. To move away from those activities that are familiar and safe and move into areas that are new and unfamiliar. I have a garden space that is large and has much capacity for new crops alongside the well established plants that nourish my soul.

  45. Patricia on February 11, 2016 at 11:38

    I am signing papers today to put my home on the market. I am sizing down once more to start another faze in my retirement years. I don’t know if this is the right decision or where I move to will be the right place to grow my garden. I can only hope and pray.

  46. Robert on February 11, 2016 at 11:23

    Light and water are needed, hopefully in the right balance for the fruits, vegetables, and flowers to grow. The first light is Jesus, all the other light flows from him: love, peace, patience, and the haloes of people around us. Water may be our tears–suffering, sadness, disappointment turned to compassion for others. I pray to be able to recognize the light in unexpected places and to have the courage to turn my tears away from self-pity.

    • gary on February 11, 2016 at 11:37

      Truly lovely, Robert. Thanks.

  47. Carla on February 11, 2016 at 11:18

    I never have difficulty getting out to the garden in a morning full of sun. I live in Colorado. So, usually, a morning ritual is getting water to plants early enough before it evaporates and thus, wasted. My connection is this. Getting to prayer early enough in the day before time is wasted and taken up with something else. These 40 Days is going to be for me using time to pray before the time and space is distracted with something else. I love to journal. I find writing helps me pray. A year ago I came upon an app in which I can journal on my computer and it is a wonderful way to write in a spontaneous manner. I am committing to write/journal everyday for ever how long or short the time is. I will listen to the nudging of thought and desire to work out an idea or spiritual “garden path.”

    • Victoria on February 11, 2016 at 11:43

      Please share the app that you like to use. I too, like to journal each morning. It helps me to clear my head and heart and then be able to hear from Him which direction I need to go.

  48. Pam on February 11, 2016 at 11:03

    Two years ago at an SSJE retreat, we participants were asked by the retreat leader to think of something we wanted of God, something we wanted more than anything else. My mind came up with all sorts of possibilities–an easier pregnancy for my daughter-in-law, the birth of a healthy grandchild, continued sobriety for one of my sons, healing for my other son, a deeper relationship with my husband. But the one thing that surpassed all the others was to be a blessing to God. That desire came as somewhat of a surprise, but it could not be denied. In a sense, that meant that I had to put all those other family concerns in second place (which sounds somewhat scandalous and unthinkable), but to be a blessing to God was what my heart wanted most of all. God’s answer later in the weekend was that I already was a blessing. The plant of blessing continues to grow in my garden. It’s healthy and strong and bigger than all the other plants. It is crowding out some of the less desirable plants, especially the plant of fear–a real garden thug that self-sows and spreads by underground roots. But there are other plants that are doing well, even though they are not my immediate focus–the plant of love, the plant of compassion, the plant of courage, the plant of faith. They all seem to derive protection and energy from the plant of blessing. They’re doing well too.

    • Lisa on February 11, 2016 at 11:40

      This is so lovely.

      • gwedhen nicholas on February 11, 2016 at 18:59

        I agree!

    • Muriel Akam on February 16, 2016 at 12:37

      So lovely.

  49. Rosana on February 11, 2016 at 10:57

    Having moved last year to a better climate partly because of our love of gardening, my husband and I are getting ready for our first season gardening here. That’s not metaphor, that is physical reality and I hear him outside right now, working on the greenhouse. AND it’s metaphor for a new phase of life, slowly revealing itself. I guess I need to grow more patience (hmm, better not plant impatiens) and more clarity about what to do and plant!

    • Mary Pitner on February 11, 2016 at 13:41

      You brought a smile to my face with “better not plant impatiens.”

  50. William Spies on February 11, 2016 at 10:30

    I have been retired now for a few years thanks to the economy and the cycle of the working place, so like a plant pulled from the soil I have been trying to re-root myself into new growth. My life has always been one that has searched for spiritual direction and ways to improve my faith in God. Now I have found a nurturing church community to be a part of and hope with their support and the guidance of God through those people of faith that I find strength to grow my faith, my understanding of what God wants me to be. So now I have begun to seek the path he intends me to take.

  51. NA on February 11, 2016 at 10:27

    I’ve been a gardener for many years. One of my favorite things has always been digging, clearing, and replanting when a bed got overcrowded, had too many weeds, or just needed a new “do.” I love the whole process of digging deep, pulling out overgrown clumps, shaking, dividing, deciding what stays and goes, and replanting.

    While I physically cannot engage in that sort of thing at the moment, in the spiritual garden I am in the process of massive renovation. God is digging up the old to create something new, using the multi-layered process of healing from Late Stage Lyme disease as the shovel.

    My body is not thriving, and so I simply cannot carry on with business as usual. In truth, this is not a bad thing. Renovation was needed. Change does not happen if you refuse to dig. And just as the shovel slicing through long established roots is not necessarily pleasant for the plant, this process is, at times, quite painful.

    However, in the midst of this, my spirit garden renovation and growth is thriving! I am finding so very many gifts to open, and gaining some huge Ah-ha! moments that I needed more than I could have imagine. My old life garden was not sustainable, but my new life garden will be.

    While I would not necessarily have chosen this route had I been given the choice(!), I am grateful that I was not given that choice. Even this was of God’s love and goodness to me, and I am excited to see what the new garden of Me will look like and what beauty will spring forth once this season of suffering is complete. (For one thing, this time I am planting more zinnias!)

    • Eva on February 13, 2016 at 16:47

      Thank you for sharing this wonderfully positive and uplifting perspective. May we learn to want as God wants, that is, what we need.

      • NA on February 13, 2016 at 17:47

        Thank you!

  52. Bob on February 11, 2016 at 10:19

    What is thriving? What is not? I thought I had a rule of life as I entered my retirement years. Work part time and participate in all those activities that I did not participate in earlier in life. Plant those activities that I have been missing out on and stop planting those activities I felt I had to do, but not longer seem essential to my life. It has yet to happen. Part time work still takes up too much time. I need the money! or do I? Health concerns, knees, hips, heart are a significant concern. So what do I plant now? What do I stop planting? Is this the time to do it? Yes God has a plan for me. Am I listening? Hopefully this series will help me get on the right track of what to plant so that the garden of the rest of my life will thrive.

  53. Darby Logan on February 11, 2016 at 10:17

    My garden is bare. Snow covered and icy. Full of loss. I wish I knew how to nurture it in this bleak season. ~DL

    • Amy on February 13, 2016 at 12:51

      Hello, Darby,
      I was thinking that when the ground is frozen and icy, that is when I like to imagine my wonderful new garden–dream freely about what I would like it to be. Then get out the seed catalogs and see what is possible with the resources I have!

    • Eva on February 13, 2016 at 16:37

      The earth may be bare but it is teamng with life. All kinds of organisms are busy in the darkness. Through all our loss, God is there – busy in our darkness.

    • NA on February 13, 2016 at 17:52

      Sometimes the nurturing we need most is just to Be, not to be doing but just to Be. At times in our lives, that may be all we are up to at the moment. Even if our gardens might be enshrouded in the icy cold of winter darkness, the seasons themselves bear witness to the fact that spring warmth follows winter cold, and one day we emerge to find that joy really does come in the morning.

  54. Claire on February 11, 2016 at 10:10

    Presently, I am overcome by clutter – in my office, in my home thus in my mind. The seed I am planting is “decluttering”. For my Lenten practice, I am promising to throw away one box/one bag in my office each day. Once I finish my office I will start in my home. I am hoping to grow peaceful spaces around me.

  55. Russell on February 11, 2016 at 09:58

    There are a variety of things that are growing in my life–some good, others not so much so. I find that I am maintaining the same garden that I was tending ten years ago. The yield from certain portions of the garden are diminishing while others portions are increasing. The key for me, I think, is to identify those portions that are not producing like they once were and then to prayerfully consider whether those portions should be cut back or more carefully nurtured.

  56. Chanda on February 11, 2016 at 09:55

    My life is full with full time work, full time student, full time mom. But my spiritual life is lacking as well as personal time for myself. I let so much get in the way of that time. I think these two go hand in hand. I need space in my garden for this growth!

  57. brent on February 11, 2016 at 09:55

    I’m already finding the garden metaphor full of good thoughts! My ‘season’ is late–I’ve recently retired from my principal career, but I hope to develop a second one as a creative writer. Am I starting too late? Gardening requires an abundance of optimism, and faith in a long season. Fencing and pruning? Boy, do I have to fend off a lot of distractions. I had to stop doing the little part-time job I had taken on to get out of the house. I had to find a ‘community plot’ instead–a shared work space with a rule of silence. But I still need faith: faith that it matters, faith that I will enjoy health and strength enough to make something of this enterprise. My rule needs to incorporate more time to trust in and feel God’s love for me, not abstractly but personally, so I can feel my ‘late-season garden’ is worthwhile, whether it yields abundant fruits or not. I’m pretty sure God cares more about the process than the product–but I need constant reminding. Thank you, SSJE brothers!

    • gwedhen nicholas on February 11, 2016 at 18:51

      It is never too late! Good for you.

  58. Robert on February 11, 2016 at 09:52

    Space is my issue. My life is packed with work, community and family. It is a constant series of decisions, but there are clear priorities: family first, work and then community. Still the video makes me smile because the metaphor works so well. I plant a very small number of vegetables in pots and one barrel. It is my project compared to the rest of the garden, which my wife and I share responsibility. These vegetables are given small spaces to grow so I must be very organized. The parallels with my life make me smile.

  59. Louise on February 11, 2016 at 09:35

    I’m almost 80 and downsizing is required both in my literal and figurative gardens. It’s humbling and comforting at the same time. I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to see how gentle God is, how He knows that we are but dust, how He blesses the poor in spirit. I chuckle to think how often I have felt dissatisfied and driven to be more productive (as though God were some Pharoah kind of slave driver) even though the garden of my life has given me more than enough delicious fruit and veggies. It’s just too tempting to look at the weeds. So, I’m looking for ways to be thankful for my humble garden and pray for energy and skill to be God’s handmaiden here. I’m remembering the poor fellow in Jesus’ parable who was given but one talent. He was poor only because he thought God was a hard task master and that was his undoing. So I think my focus this Lent is to be on the Master Gardener, my compassionate Teacher, who is hoping I won’t be a know it all this Lent but instead a willing student.

    • alma on February 11, 2016 at 19:28

      Very inspiring thoughts!

  60. Mary Ann Ryan on February 11, 2016 at 09:35

    Thriving for me is living without anxiety, knowing that in God’s presence I will always find peace and love. I’m working on it.
    Mary Ann

  61. DP on February 11, 2016 at 09:32

    What is thriving? Patience and charity (usually!); work
    What is not? Faithfulness; relationship with God

  62. Linda on February 11, 2016 at 09:31

    What is thriving in my life is my active participation in the life of my church – verger, hospitality, choir, pastoral care, Magdalene House. I love the life of my church, all that we do inside and outside. However, what seems to not be thriving, despite all of that, is a personal relationship with God, one that can further ground me and sustain me through good times and hard times. That is what I long to plant and nurture in my life.

  63. Mike Seymour on February 11, 2016 at 09:25

    Less than a year ago I rose out of a long period of spiritual dryness where much of the time I had a subtle, low-grade sense of not fitting well into my skin, being at odds with the life I had. I was not accepting the life I had, wishing something more/else. Much of the issue was pride thinking that I should have other/better than my circumstances. Much also was also a lack of gratefulness and willingness to see the good and beauty about me. well, I have thankfully come through that to a place of greater acceptance, peace and equanimity. The calm and peace I’ve now attained still is wanting a greater recognition of Go’d grace. I pray to be more thankful and to have the heart/eyes to see and rejoice over the gifts that flow daily through my life. I know ai am a recipient of grace each day, but I think I’ve gotten so used to it I tend to discount the blessings. Lord open my eyes to the blessing and my heart to praise.

  64. gwedhen nicholas on February 11, 2016 at 09:16

    Right now, love for God and His plans for me are thriving. I have come recently to be aware that I may be a prophet. I need to read my Bible and pray and journal in such a way as to know what needs to be said; to think of communities and other people when I do these things. I have always done these things for myself; I need to learn how to do them for others; to have revelations which I can share from my quiet times with God. Please help me God!

  65. JV on February 11, 2016 at 09:07

    I am not sure what is thriving and what is not. Lately, I just feel overwhelmed and unsure of a direction for the rest of my life. I am at a crossroads. In a way, some of my personal endeavors have been improved – learning more, expressing myself better though after a long struggle. But in my faith I am confounded and feel alone. Work is difficult. Family has been going through turmoil. It is hard.

  66. Betty on February 11, 2016 at 09:07

    In the garden of my life my spirit wants to thrive but is sometimes held back because of my desire to make others conform to how I want them to be, intersecting because what is thriving is my life with those I don’t seek to control… Really not so surprising when I reflect on it… I long to live more in the moment and treasure the beauty surrounding me… Amen

  67. Margaret on February 11, 2016 at 08:55

    Newly retired, I’ve been eager to find new ways to use my skills an experience. Some of that is happening, but I’m also frustrated by recurring shoulder issues. I need to cultivate patience, and out of the box thinking.

  68. Darla on February 11, 2016 at 08:24

    I am not sure what is thriving. Many things are growing but it seems like their growth is stunted. Perhaps what is needed is to remove some plants, prune others back and to listen to the voice within that says balance is key. The weeds of perfection, acceptance by others,and self doubt need to be removed. I need to submit to the Gardner and ask the Gardner what should be grown and follow the plan so that what has been planted can thrive

  69. Michael on February 11, 2016 at 08:23

    These are the type of questions that stop my planting before it starts. I allow myself to be overwhelmed because I don’t determine which practices are thriving and which are dying on the vine. I get confused and then I give up. I then whine becuase I’m stuck and the whole thing repeats itself. Maybe the fact that working through these various issues would require changing things on my part and that just seems too daunting Complaining seems easier than change. I’m not sure what will get me to move off the dime

    • gary on February 11, 2016 at 11:26

      Hey Michael, I hear ya.

    • Barbara on February 16, 2016 at 19:49

      Me too — I have no pblm starting / planting but the follow on a consistent basis thru is my Achilles heel. Then I give up and complain because I’m stuck There is something / some part of me that is blocking my growth — stopping my progress — my forward movement — so I find myself sitting on the proverbial ‘Dock of the Bay’ (an old Otis Reading song)

  70. Carol on February 11, 2016 at 08:13

    In the garden of my life there ought to be flowers, plants that provide food, spice, & sustenance and plants that provide shade, shelter & fuel. There also needs to be plants that feed the animals that also provide food & clothing, there should be plants that protect the soil from erosion and plants that deter pests.

    This would be the perfect garden, but I am not able to physically manage such a garden, nor do I have the space or climate. I cannot grow everything necessary for life. And, then there are the weeds.

    I must learn to discern the weeds from the plants and take care not to nurture them but pick them up and toss them away. Jealousy, anger, hate, in forgiveness, selfishness, greed, & more have no place in my garden.

    I must depend on others for help. We live in community. My flowers might bring joy to others or my vegetables might feed the hungry. Another’s plants might fuel my fire, shelter me from the elements and so on.

    If my garden has nothing but flowers it may look beautiful but it cannot sustain me unless I share. When I open my garden to others, I build relationships, strengthen others, bless them.

    Two of my spiritual gifts are hospitality and service. My figurative garden is the source of those gifts. I must focus daily on nurturing the “plants” that source those gifts and be vigilant that I do not let the weeds creep in amongst them.

    My time spent with God needs to be my guidebook for planting, growing and harvesting my “garden.”

  71. Bettie von Frankenberg on February 11, 2016 at 08:08

    I am in new life, having moved into a mother-in-law suite as planned but never really believed would happen. I am finding my way in a new community 5 driving hours away from my home of 50+ years. I have been a gardener all my life. But I am not a thorough one; I plant; it grows or it doesn’t. I love weeding, which I can do. My body no longer allows me to dig and plant. I have moved from a flat garden which allowed me to work, to a hillside garden in which I am in danger of falling. So I look out on the space that is “mine”, see what needs to happen, dream and plan, but cannot/do not carry out. And that, I guess, is where my Rule must begin. To strive to do what I can, faithfully, following through, watering when it needs it, not when I happen to think of it. As I appreciate God’s glory in nature, I need to act as well. This means faithful physical exercise program so I am strong enough to do in my real garden and in my life; thankfulness for the opportunity to cultivate new relationships; carry-through and stick-to-it-tivness. Hence, my hope of a Rule for a God-given life.

    • Mary Pitner on February 11, 2016 at 13:26

      Bettie said, “And that, I guess, is where my Rule must begin. To strive to do what I can…” Although I process very haphazardly – and often not very originally, I fear – your words touched my heart and I hope will inspire me as I work to focus on establishing my own Rule. Thank you for sharing. You never know how you may influence others.

  72. Natalie on February 11, 2016 at 07:56

    I think regretfully that this forces me to see I have too many things sprouting, stagnant or dormant and not much at all thriving….a lot of things done to mediocrity or without planning, so not enough fruit, if any to be honest, is born. This must be a sign that I need to weed back my own garden to sort through what is necessary and sustaining, and not draining….and to be more selective in what I plant. Be more thoughtful in this selection and less random and quick. And to evaluate what fences/trellises are necessary to encourage growth and what are blocking or even killing growth…..

  73. Raleigh on February 11, 2016 at 07:56

    Would the concept of weeds exist if not for humankind’s desire to control gifts given by God?

  74. Neil Ellis Orts on February 11, 2016 at 07:51

    This is a hard “word.” I don’t have time this morning to get into it, but suffice to say that I feel as if I’m in a season that is hard, nothing thriving, just working to keep everything alive for a poor crop. With the seeds of the poor crop, though, I keep hope that I will be be able to plant and get a better yield with the next crop.

    From the Desert Fathers:

    “Two farmers lived in the same town. One of them sowed and reaped only a small and poor crop, while the other did not even trouble to sow and reaped absolutely nothing. If a famine comes upon them, which of the two will find something to live on?” The brother replied: “The one who reaped the small poor crop.” The old man said to him: “So it is with us: we sow a little poor grain, so that we will not die of hunger.”

  75. Randy on February 11, 2016 at 07:30

    Patience is thriving, fed by a recognition that my current state of affairs is at times overwhelming: an unemployed husband, managing the resolution of my recently deceased aunt’s trust, struggling to find direction in retirement after a forty-two year career, all luxury problems in a sense, but the kind that can in a daily way, wear away at the soul. I can be kind in a daily, one situation T a time, kind of way. I’s say that prayer is thriving, a daily morning practice in a tangible approach, that is recent. Literally on my knees at the side of the bed. Improving my conscious contact with God on a daily basis is the struggling planting in the garden.

    • Amy on February 13, 2016 at 12:32

      Me, too, Randy.
      Retired from a 34 year career,
      recently unemployed husband,
      death of my mother, more care of my father.
      Patience is how I look on the surface to others. But I am constantly refurbishing the patience robbed by grief with trips to rest during the day.

  76. Alec Clement on February 11, 2016 at 07:29

    Plants are fragile and need much tender care much as we should care for our fragile companions on this road we travel. Obstacles to our reaching out need to be eliminated just as the weeds in our garden need to be removed to permit things to blossom

  77. Leslie on February 11, 2016 at 07:26

    I just realized that I have been transplanted quite abruptly, just at the season for fruit. I have not yet found my fungal partners in the new soil. Shall I partner with a new species or grow extra roots, looking for my correct partner?

  78. Laurie on February 11, 2016 at 06:59

    The daily ways I nurture my family are thriving. I learn and adapt daily to our needs. A clear understanding of my vocation beyond the home is not thriving.

  79. Jim V on February 11, 2016 at 06:58

    Not many things feel like they are thriving
    A lot feels like is not
    From day to day I make my way experiencing my daily lot
    People around me need the feeding, am I really there?
    My own health is declining and in need of repair
    I have toiled in many gardens that never seem to grow
    Perhaps I have been planting the wrong things, at the wrong time, in the wrong place. God help me to know.

    • Vickie on February 11, 2016 at 16:42

      I am in a very similar place.

    • Eva on February 13, 2016 at 16:13

      Take heart. Sometimes when we see no growth it is because the roots are becoming strong to support the leaves, blossoms and fruit that will come later. Our care for others now may have unexpected and wonderful consequences beyond our sight.

  80. Lauren on February 11, 2016 at 06:49

    As I watched this video I realize how much plants need light to grow. I need to nourish the light within me, accept the light within to grow my roots deeper in the One who Loves me and blesses me with Light and Love. I want to cultivate gratefulness for this Light within and for the Love that abounds.

  81. Robert Corey on February 11, 2016 at 06:03

    I’m reminded of someone’s comment on a previous day with respect to landscaping with native plants and not invasives. City officials were critical. Nature doesn’t bloom according to our calendar but to its own.

    There’s a tension between our intentions in life and what is given despite our intentions. Are our intentions cooperating with the natural scheme or at war with it. To me, constant maintenance is indicative of injustice. Topiary is evil. To me. It can be pretty to look at. I’d not go to pains to produce it. And what of bonsai? I’ve never tried it (correction — I’ve made false starts I did not sustain) but am fascinated. Here one directs nature, with a degree of patience and humility, but still wants conformity to an ideal, at the expense of what the plant seeks to become. We all live with that tension. Nature can yield to our needs. And our needs are sufficient that we must require it to yield.

    I think my own capacity to dream and to do is impaired to the point that I try to nurture my capacity to accept, abide, and be grateful.

    • Mryka on February 11, 2016 at 16:37

      On the practical city side, many cities have laws requiring some landscaping, but for builders to sign off on permits they have to have an “instant garden” in place. Invasives are invasive because – well, because they can survive anything anywhere and colonize barren land. It’s a hard job but someplant has to do it. A possible solution might be to work with nurseries to specify specific hardy invasives that will gradually die bacl as the soil, other plants and climate conditions return to a more normal cover. Or, maybe just treat the invasives as a ground cover and redefine them. some cities have had dandelion festivals with just this in mind.
      I’m not sure I want to go into the spirituality of invasives as groundcovers!

  82. alma de Bode-Olton on February 11, 2016 at 04:43

    As I reflect on this video. I thought about the plants we placed in our meditation garden at church about a year ago. They have to endure a constant strong wind and the growing process has been slow. Every day when watering and nurturing these plants, I was hoping and praying that they would be able to survive the force of nature. After a year of hope and caring, they now firmly rooted and are bearing beautiful and healthy leaves. I feel my spiritual life is like these plants. With all that is going on in my life, there is much to endure. At times I wonder if I will be able to run the race to the finish. But this gardening experience gives hope. With, prayer, fasting, remaining strongly connected to the Word and patience, I am being fed spirituality to overcome temptations that come my way. As I gradually learn and permit God’s will and timing in my life: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ― Julian of Norwich

    I therefor need to continue giving the Almighty God is to because of the knowledge of his love and for helping me to experience the Holy Spirit at work in my life.

    • alma de Bode-Olton on February 11, 2016 at 04:46

      Correction:
      ……I therefor need to continue give honor and praise to the Almighty God because of the knowledge of his love and for helping me to experience the Holy Spirit at work in my life.

  83. Yogi on February 10, 2016 at 21:37

    I loved reading Jane’s words. I am also taking myself seriously. Beyond a strong and loving relationship with myself…a first….what other relationships am I interested in cultivating, in continuing? Is everything up for review? Where does obligation and tradition fit in?

    For the moment, I am focused on allowing myself to receive; both from myself and others. I’m a bit self conscious writing these words…but I am living a Real Life, so I speak openly.

    Beyond receiving, I feel grateful! Great Gratitude for being as awake as I am! Thank you, Jesus.

  84. Andrea Morrison on February 10, 2016 at 18:39

    After watching this video, I think one of the things that came to mind for me was my level of patience. I find that as I get older, and new opportunities arise, and the more people I’m connecting with, I find that I can only handle so much. I find that as you grow older, patience deteriorates, and you begin to have less of it. I think that this is something that can easily connect with gardening. In order for something to flourish, you need to have patience, you need to wait for things to grow. You have to plant it, water it, give it sunlight, and above all, wait for it to begin to sprout. This is an aspect in everyone’s life that I feel could always be worked on, and it is definitely an area in my life that I feel could be thriving more.

    • Dorothy P. on February 12, 2016 at 12:31

      Oh no! I feel like I’ve spent so much effort cultivating patience over my adult life to date, and it gets worse?! I appreciate the implicit reminder that, like anything worthwhile (marriage & other significant relationships, spirituality, a Rule of Life), patience is a life-long maintenance project. Thank you Andrea.

    • Rhonda on February 13, 2016 at 12:03

      Funny…I find as I get older I have more patience perhaps Its because I am better at giving thing up to God. However my struggle is learning how to hear God on big decisions on my life.

      • Margaret on February 21, 2016 at 19:04

        Exactly!! I am not always receptive to what God is trying to say to me, especially when I need to change . I understand it is HIS will I need to comprehend and follow. It is hard for me to listen.

  85. Jane on February 10, 2016 at 17:31

    I have struggled with the concept of self care all of my life as it relates to caring for this gift God has given me, a “place to live,” so to speak, while I am here on Earth. So I’m not talking about being at my proper weight and being physically fit so that I’ll look great and attractive to others. I’m talking about planting and growing the seeds of self love that will result in self care. I guess we all take our health for granted to some extent, but I don’t want to do that anymore. I would like to plant seeds of gratitude for my health and well being, which I sometimes feel, continue despite my lack of commitment to self nurturing. And to express that gratitude by caring for myself–physically, mentally, spiritually. Hopefully I can do this by making one good choice at a time…

    • Mir on February 26, 2016 at 12:39

      Yes – that garden fence comment really struck me. I’d become far too unbalanced of a franciscan, not stewarding myself and respecting my needs as I taught others to respect theirs.

  86. Carol Ward on February 10, 2016 at 14:29

    I’ve just come to the end of what might be called a ‘good work’. As a result, I’m casting about for a new way to use my talents so I can help others. I’m not certain what it will be but I need to be open to possibilities. And, there’s an issue I want to think about. I want to find a better balance between expressing emotions, especially negative ones, and holding them in. I’ve always felt it best to ‘get things on the table’ but some people are clearly not wanting this and may be unable to process difficult issues. Where’s the fulcrum?

    • Glory Fu on May 25, 2017 at 22:04

      I have the same problems as you do–feeling the best to be open-minded and to put things on the table. However, everyone differs in personalities. As I seek for God’s words, I have been reminded by several inspiring verses. “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life.” Proverbs 15:4 “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers.” Proverbs 15:28
      God’s words can nourish us and teach us what /how to say. Amen!

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