A congregation of the United Church of Canada
One of my favourite things about summer is zucchini lasagna, where you substitute long strips of zucchini in place of the usual noodles. Delicious! Heavenly! Zukes are too expensive to make it unless you grow them, so in recent years we’ve tried to do so. I remember when we lived in our Bowmanville house we were ecstatic if our garden produced enough for a few meals. One year we only got one lasagne out of the whole season. (One year we broke down and bought them!)
Then we moved to a house in the country, with a much bigger garden, and much more sunshine. I don’t think we suddenly learned more about gardening, but our yield at the new place has been staggering. (Being in the right space nurtures growth!) For two summers now I’ve been eating zucchini lasagna every week! Yum! And I’ve been bringing in monster zukes to the church to give away because we’ve grown so many that we just can’t eat them all.
My in-laws have had vegetable gardens forever, and know way more than I probably ever will about how to tend them. This year, sadly, their garden is a disaster. Nothing seems to want to grow. They suspect they got some tainted soil in their last delivery. And they have a pesky, uninvited, four-footed guest who visits and nibbles whatever does grow.
I think our spiritual lives are something like vegetable gardens. It has to start with an intention and desire to grow. Then there is preparation and planning for how to go about it. Then there’s the work of planting, watering, weeding, and waiting. And in time, you will grow. Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen. It needs tending. (Sounds like a lot of work.) (Yup!)
Sometimes the elements align and you produce a bountiful yield in your spiritual growing season.
Sometimes the elements don’t all click and you have a bad season.
Sometimes a bad season happens because you don’t do a good job in your planting, or you don’t water enough, or you don’t attend to the weeds, or you are too impatient.
And sometimes, sadly, even with experience and expertise on your side, your spiritual life just doesn’t flourish in a season. If it persists, the mystics have a name for it. “The long, dark night of the soul.” That they have a name for it tells you how often it happens!
So, I am grateful for the bounty of our garden, and the joy of eating zucchini lasagna every week. I wish my spiritual life was as bountiful. I’ve been in a bit of a long, dark night for a while. I plant, and I plant, and I plant. I guess I’m not doing enough watering, weeding, and waiting. (That’s always the part I trip on.) Or maybe it’s just an off season – like my in-laws and their garden. Seasons happen. I’ll ponder that as I enjoy my leftovers for lunch. Can you guess what I’m having?