Your Blog Steward

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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Gardening; Or, How I am Living into Middle Age

One of the more famous novels of France ends with this line "That is very well put, said Candide, but we must cultivate our garden." (Voltaire's Candide) Little did I know when I first read that line 30 years ago I would be living into it. But now, entering the middle of my life, I love my garden.

However, up until last year, I had not ever gardened, but there were reasons. First, my mom is a great gardener. Most of my life I lived off her gardens. And she never made me weed it! Then, with children, a dog, and a regular job, gardening was beyond my time. Pastors don't have summers "off." (Just because people stop attending worship in the summer does not mean congregations take them off. Ministry is just done with less people, but it is still done. 40 people volunteering at a pantry in January down to 10 people in July, but the pantry is still provided...hunger doesn't take vacations.) Now, with a less regular job (or, as my college roommate says, "How can I tell?"), the children off leading young adult lives, and my wife changing the world, I have time to garden. I see Candide's point.

My garden is very modest. In truth, I spend most of my time making dirt. We rent an urban house in Omaha, and the land has had 50 years of suburban living, and not much stewarding. So year by year I plan on converting this former "backyard" into a tiny urban farm. Now, it turns out, (and this should come as no shock to someone whose entire family has lived on the prairie for 200 years), that I seem to have a knack for gardening. Who knew?

For example, I grew these last year  Those are eggplants. The interesting thing is, I didn't plant eggplants last year. As Rachel said, (Rachel is my garden's design coordinator, seen here)  "You're so good at gardening you can grow things you didn't plant." Not really.

Here's the thing about gardening, and why it's working for me in my middle-age: it's all about letting things do what they're created to do. Plants want to grow, soil wants to nurture, and water wants to win (water always wins, even if it takes millions of years, the mountains erode.) Gardening is just letting things created live and flourish in a trustworthy environment. I try to keep my garden trustworthy for the plants, so they can do what they do...bear fruit.

What better metaphor (that old sneek Voltaire was onto something here) for a life winding its way towards an end? Many of you, gentle readers, have been taught and preached at by me for a long time now. Many of you are off to ministries and lives that provide people hope and promise, bring food, love, and compassion to brokenhearted souls. Some of you are artists extraordinaire, and the beauty you bring our world cannot be surpassed. Although many of us will never meet again except in these pages, I trust you're bearing the fruit God created you to bear.

That is my hope for everyone, that we steward the gardens God gives us. That we find ways to create trustworthy worlds where people can flourish and grow. Without a doubt, my favorite verse from the Bible is the one that adorns the top of this blog, "Consider us this way, servants of Christ, stewards of the mysteries of God." (1 Corinthians 4.1) And the older I get, the more I would like to be considered this way.

Here's what the garden looks like this morning. 

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.


Chris said...

Awesome! Thanks -

Pam Brewer said...

I can certainly relate. I sit and stare in wonder at my garden the way I sat and stared in wonder at my babies 30 some years ago! Life is continuously an unfolding of surprises...