My mom is a plant-lover. Plants are a foundation to her decorating and to the beauty and life of her home. Her plants are lovely, full, vibrant and healthy. She nurtures them simply and consistently, pushing her index finger into the soil to feel their needs. She doesn’t overcomplicate the whole thing or obsess over them. She waters them weekly and pulls off or trims unhealthy growth. She tends.
I wanted to be a plant-lover. Year after year, I killed many plants. I gave them a feast and then a famine. Cycles of over-watering to compensate for the neglect and dryness of weeks or months without care. Too much and too little. Too much and too little. Year after year. And so I proclaimed, “I am just not a plant person.”
Last year I decided that there wasn’t such a thing as a “plant person”. I made a complicated deal out of something that should be simple. Growth comes with water, sunlight and consistent tending. That is all. Why did I think I needed to be someone with complex skill, deep horticultural knowledge, and an intuitive sense for plant health?
So in January of 2016, I bought several new plants. I realized that when I had only one or two, I didn’t notice them and that led to neglect. I placed a plant in each common living area and one in my bedroom. I decided to water them on Thursdays and wrote that on my weekly calendar. Six months passed and they still lived! And now, a year later, I have about 20 plants that are healthy, nurtured and cared for.
My spiritual health mirrors the life and growth of my plants.
I binge on books, teaching, and spiritual inspiration but then drift into a season of dryness with a neglected, withering soul. Feast and famine. Too much and too little. Unhealthy cycles of complicating the process of tending a soul. I begin to think, “I am just not cut out for the Christian life.”
I need not be a scholar, a theologian, a contemplative or mystic. I do not need to read all the books, listen to all the podcasts or attend all the conferences.
What I need is a rhythm of paying attention, watering my soul, and tending unhealthy growth.
Simple and consistent.
We are living, growing beings in need of the Son, the water of the Holy Spirit and Word, and a rhythm of receiving these. We and the plants grow slowly and steadily as we receive consistent care, pruning, Light, and Water.
My weekly soul-watering is Sabbath. I unplug from Saturday dinner until Sunday dinner. It is a space to receive the gifts that God wants to offer me when I slow down, make room, listen and be present. Sabbath is an invitation of rest and presence with God and others. It is not complicated or demanding but is God’s offering to all, right where we are, undone and incomplete.
Being in a home with vibrant, healthy plants offers our bodies beauty, rest, and clear air to breathe. And being in places with people who are growing and watered offers our souls beauty, rest, and soul-air to breathe.
Let us build rhythms of watering, receiving and tending so that we can grow beauty, strength, and health and give that quiet, tended presence away to others.
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11