Sunday, June 21, 2009

lessons from gardening

I believe you can learn lessons from nature,and you can apply those to everyday life. Here are four that I thought of recently, while tooling around in my garden spaces.

1. Every plant is unique and has differing needs and characteristics. If you treat them all the same you will quickly find this out. If you trim your hydrangea like you do your peonies you will suffer the loss of blooms. Peonies can be cut down to the ground each year and they grow back strongly the next. If you do that to a hydrangea you wo't get any blooms the next year - and perhaps longer. The reason is that hydrangeas bloom on the previous years growth and if you cut off what has grown one year there is nothing for it to bloom on. Peonies, on the other hand, bloom on the current year's growth. You can make the same types of observations about herbs versus most flowers (water issues). As with plants so with people,we all have our differences and we should respect that , just like God does. Even if you are a confirmed early bird (like me) don't expect everybody esle to be one. Treat others as individuals - get to know them first before you try to help them. There is no "one size fits all".

2. Don't sweat the small things. I have learned to make peace with things that keep coming back again and again. I have a wide swath of Lamium (also known as yellow archangel). I didn't plant it in the yard, it was just here when we moved in. I tried for a while to eradicate it (natural means) but it was persistent. I finally gave up and now simple try to contain it to a certain region of the yard. It was not worth the effort I was putting out and I gradually came to accept it's presence. On the other hand I pulled out the tansy ragwort that invaded the yard, since that one is dangerous to animals. Major on the majors and minor on the minors, and work on knowing the differences. You don't have to put up a fight about everything and only rarely are things "a matter of life and death",

3.Don't be a perfectionist. One thing that every gardener learns, sooner or later, is that there is no such thing as a perfect garden. A garden is a living,growing collection of plants that rise and fall, spread and fade, season after season, and often get messy. Even things you try to contain often get out of control. If you are a perfectionist try something other than gardening. And so with life , you can't be perfect, ...don't even try. Just be content to do the best you can, and let God take care of the outcome (he's much better than you with that).

4. And finally, don't get overinvested in planning and projects - take time to enjoy your garden. Don't be so task oriented, so focused on the destination, that you miss the journey and the view as time goes by. Life , like a garden, is a journey, a work in progress. It is to be lived, not just "accomplished".

In other words, you really should just "stop and smell the roses along the way":)

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Change, what does it mean to you and how do you react to it?

Some people relunctantly accept it They realize the truism "the only thing constant is change". They accept as they do the weather, something you have to get used to and adapt your life to deal with. They may not always like it but they aren't threatened by it.

Others are afraid of change. They see it as only bringing bad things, troubled times, quality of life and standards going downhill. They feel safe in the routines they have established and are looking to preserve their way of life. They don't want to risk what they have in the "they would say" false hopes of change. They are like an agoraphobic who won't go out of the house for fear tragedy will strike. I realized this fear exists recently as I pondered why many are so angry and adamant in resisting new ideas and trends. I realized it was not just a philosophical/religious/intellectual disagreement with what had been proposed. It was fear, fear of the unknown, fear of danger, assuming that change would only bring something worse that was existed.

I hold to the third option - welcoming change. I know that sometimes change can bring discomfort and there are the usual adjustments - I don't welcome it all the time. But in general I believe that change ,done well, can bring great gain. I believe in looking for pleasant , sometimes exhilirating surprises. I believe God intends to sprinkle joyful things throughout our lives, and often we miss them because we aren't looking for them.
I have related before that I am an irrepressible experimenter and explorer. I like to change things up, ...yes, sometimes just for the heck of it. I say you never know what kind of things you can come up with if you just mix it up - and I say 'try".

Being wise is important, and avoiding things that are clearly bad for you is only prudent, but living in fear is living in bondage. I choose hope over fear any day and I challenge you to do the same.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Runnin' From the Light

Have you ever had a time when you felt like a fraud? Are there times when you feel like you are just going through the motions, doing church things but without real feelings or meaning?
Usually when we are working hard to live out our faith we have no problem talking about it, but when we aren't it isn't easy to articulate what we believe. I know there are some who can preach one thing and live another, but sooner or later that will break down. For me it is much easier to articulate what I believe when I am actually practicing it. God has a way of reminding me to examine myself when I get "hot under the collar" about some injustice. I hear the question in my mind (not literally or vocally though)"and what about you?" I have to evaluate my life on the topic at hand and make sure I am being true to what I believe.

I had a time in college when a classmate asked me "and what do you believe?". He was Catholic and was curious about what I, a Baptist, believed. I don't remember exactly what topic or area we were discussing (there were a few of us) ...though I do know we were playing pool, not in a deep discussion. I was away from home for the first time, freshman in college, attending church but in reality just "going through the motions". I didn't feel like I was really living my faith - not that I was doing bad things ,just not in tune with God right then. I ended up saying "oh, I believe lots of things", and walking away. I knew anything I said would not feel honest and I was afraid of the discussion.
This is the subject of my song "Runnin' From the Light" (third song in the soundclick sidebar),...though the specific inspiration came from a relative who evidenced the same behaviour.
Please be sure that you are not just going through the motions. Know what you believe and live it. Life is much easier that way.:)