After a couple of evenings of meetings and way too much computer time (Yes . . . there is such a thing.) I decided to go out and get some yard work out of the way. You know enjoy the sun, get a sense of accomplishment, be a homeowner! [Pound chest here and grunt.] The vines on the fence around our house were ready to be pruned back in preparation for the rainy season that will soon be upon us.
As I was engaged in the act of pruning, my mind kept hearkening back to the many metaphors of gardening that I have heard over the years:
- Everything must sometime be pruned back in order to grow . . . we must trim back the excess and dead parts of our own life in order to grow.
- There is discipline in gardening and tending creation . . . we must tend our own souls in order to grow.
- God is the vine . . . we must understand the ways that God is weaved throughout our lives and the world.
Okay . . . well as those images were going through my mind, I will be honest, I was thinking, "Yeah, yeah . . but this sucks!" Do you SEE the huge pile of creation that I had to cut back? That does not even count the already full compost bin and bag of leaves. Most of you know I am not a real nature guy, so getting out and doing this is just not all that fun. Even the power hedge-trimmer was not enough to get me revved up for the job. I would much rather be outside engageing in the spiritual disciple of doing nothing. The pruning and cleaning process was gross, garbage and dog poop hidden under leaves, allergies, ahh let me count the ways . . .
So . . . here is what I think God was telling me in the midst of this. Yes, all the above are true, but I think God was also reminding me that tending an URBAN garden adds another level of need. While I am not a big "go out and see trees and mountains"* kind of guy, I do think that having SOME green in the city is important and if it is tended to all the better. The neighborhood we live in has been one of the rougher ones and there are signs that, for whatever reason, some do not tend their homes, gardens, etc. And while there is something to be said for the durability of concrete, I do like the fact that our little corner house in the middle of a rough neighborhood has signs of life, tending and care. It is my hope that our little patch of life; the kids playing outside, trying to talk with neighbors, having people over and yes, a tended garden, may just say to a part of the city where there is some level of hopelessness, there is hope.
So . . . dog poop and all, it was worth it.
* I have never been to Yosemite and am the kind of camper that will have dinner ready for you when you get back from your little hike thing.