Trying to Make Things Grow

I don’t know if it was a rush of blood to the head or some things I have been reading, but we have started to take a bit more interest in the garden recently.

Last summer, one of our projects was to dig up a bed at the front of the house that had got very overgrown and try to get it into shape for sowing some plants and flowers. A parishioner, who knows more about these things, gave us some advice and did a lot of work to help us as we unearthed roots and weeds and old shrubs that had got tangled in plastic matting that had become overgrown. There were lots of stones and rocks and blocks that were embedded as we huffed and puffed and grunted our way towards filling a skip with all the rubbish that was contained there. In the autumn, we planted some shrubs and flowers after getting advice from our friend and from a local garden centre.

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit just how clueless you really are and to confess to having no experience of these things. The height of my gardening abilities tends to be around cutting grass, and even that is not done as frequently as it should be.

On April 22nd, I heard a devotion on my Bible reading app, Lectio 365, all about caring for the environment and how taking even one small individual step can make a significant impact.

I began to wonder if I could grow some herbs and reduce the amount of plastic packaging coming into our home. Again, I went to a local garden centre who advised me on the kind of planter I might require. I consulted with our friend who, again, made some helpful suggestions and even offered me some chives from his garden to get me started. I planted some rocket leaves, which are still alive, some parsley and rosemary, which have made an appearance in some of our dinners. The basil, however, didn’t survive but, maybe, I’ll give it another go.

Encouraged by these small successes, I got a book out of the library about growing vegetables and fruit in pots and watched some videos on YouTube. I taped a few gardening programmes on the television and even watched a couple of them and planted some potatoes on pots. I don’t know if they are doing well, but there are some flowers coming which, I understand, is a positive sign.

One of the things we need to do to nurture the flowers, the plants and the various herbs and bits and pieces is to water them. We live in a climate in which plenty of water comes naturally through the rainfall and we shouldn’t take that for granted. I now find myself regularly making my way around in the evening with the watering can. It doesn’t require a lot of brain power, and there is something quite gentle and reassuring about hearing everything getting its regular sprinkling and, hopefully, as we try to keep the weeds under control, things will take root and grow. I find myself, in a way that surprises me, getting excited about seeing flowers appear, or being able to trim off a bit of something that can become part of dinner.

Jesus spoke a lot, using images from agriculture and growing things, about the life of faith. He recognised how important it is to nurture the seeds of faith that are sown in people’s lives. Just like in the garden things need water,  to nurture faith we need certain things, too, like regular time with the Word of God, time to pray and be silent in God’s presence and the support of a community of faith.

It’s incredibly important and so encouraging to see people in our church community, both old and young, take significant steps of faith recently. We recognise just how life giving and special it is in our role as clergy to be able to have conversations with people about their spiritual life. It’s a privilege to be invited in at times of joy and sorrow, of sickness and achievement and to be allowed to pray for and with people.

Rather like the things in the garden, we can do certain things that are undoubtedly helpful in caring for the things we try to grow, but it’s God who is the grower. In the life of faith, we can share our faith with our friends and family, we can pray for them and invite them to church but, ultimately, it is the power of God’s spirit at work within someone’s life that helps that faith to deepen and to grow.

Can you play a part in nurturing the seed of spiritual life in someone you know? Can you provide a safe space to talk about spiritual things? Can you share your experiences in an honest way that is encouraging and helpful? Can you share books or apps or podcasts that might have been useful on your own spiritual journey? Can you welcome someone who looks as if they are unaccustomed to being in church? These can all be so helpful to people taking their first tentative steps on the journey of faith.

Look forward to speaking again soon.

Much love to everyone,


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