My wife loves her garden. She gets a lot of pleasure, and a lot of calming time from the simple duties of extracting weeds, loosening soil, watering and otherwise tending the variety of plants she has artfully placed in our garden beds. It is a foreign world to me – I do not see why this shrub or that flower must be placed just so, but she assures me that it is best.
Small weeds, I am told, are easy to pull. Their roots have not set deeply, and they will slide out easily from moist soil. So regular maintenance goes a long way to making the tending easier. But the longer it goes untended, the soil toughens, the roots get deeper and wider and may intertwine with the good plants, making a bigger and bigger mess as you dig them out.
All of these things are also true of a human life. An untended life, allowed to grow wild, ungoverned by self-control, forethought, or care for others will create messy connections with others, and decisions, good or bad will then create larger and larger circles of fallout.
How often do you tend the garden of your life? How often do you take the time to do the maintenance that results in both health and beauty in the existence you have been given? Consider:
Watering – regular watering is necessary for your garden to thrive. It doesn’t just provide the means for nutrients to find their way to you, but it also impacts the soil, keeping it soft and easy. To be effective, watering needs to be consistent, and more frequent in dry times. You don’t need me to tell you what dry times look like. Watering a human life is about feeding your soul. For some it might look like attending church, getting involved, and serving others inside or outside the doors of the building. For others it might involve volunteering to help those who are struggling, or being involved in civic organizations that benefit others. For still others it might involve painting rocks with cheery messages and then travelling around the community, leaving them behind where they will be an encouragement to strangers.
Weeding – gotta get those weeds out. Weeds steal nutrients that would normally go to the plants you value. Weeds if left unchecked, get bigger and taller, shading the plants that need light and stealing even that. Weeds can take over, and when they do, there is no beauty left there. What are your weeds? Are they little habits that might grow into addictions? Are they connections to people who steal your energy and give nothing back? Are they overgrown hobbies that would normally provide a welcome change of pace or break, but have now begun to overshadow the more important things in your life – family, your partner, your children? Take some time to look earnestly and examine what might be weeds in your life, and do some pruning, or yank a few out.
Tending – take a look at what you have. The pretty blooms, the healthy vegetables working hard to produce something real for you in a few short months of life. The trees giving you shade, or possibly even fruit. Gardening gets you out amongst the things that are blessings in your life, and can’t help but bring a sense of gratitude and peace for their existence. Giving them a little attention causes the good to flourish, giving even more back to you. What good things are happening in your life today? Have you taken a few moments to appreciate them for what they are, cultivating in yourself a thankful heart? Thankfulness is a very good indicator of mental, spiritual health and wholeness. But don’t stop there. Take some time to feed the good. Your attention will bless them… and you. Making the good better is often a better use of your time, energy and resources than making the bad ok.