Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More Gardening

Nothing too profound here. I dug out the area between three beds at right angles, trying to make more room for vegetables, and I'll be doing some more digging later today. This growing season in New England has been exceptional -- in other words, everything has survived, and all the plants are producing! Yes, I'm excited, but the fact that everything is thriving has endangered the harvest (paradoxically), because if I don't thin what's there it'll grow together, risking rot and making harvesting the vegetables nearly impossible.

How could I have known it would ALL produce? Anyway, I'll be back to the garden later today -- it'll be a good change of pace from job interviews and candidacy work. Nothing like slow, backbreaking labor in good clean soil to cleanse the mind of other distractions!

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I had a first-stage telephone interview this morning, and then spent a fair amount of time working in my gardens. I moved some large cilantro, and growing genovese basil from a large pot to a bed, and then planted more basil seed. I have over 20 tomato plants growing, and some already producing fruit, so I need lots of fresh basil to make sauce...

What was I thinking??? How could any two people use so many tomatoes?! Don't get me wrong, I'll be giving them away -- I'll have to sneak onto porches in the middle of the night and leave them with a little note "courtesy of your local UMC... please come visit us, and please, PLEASE, DO NOT TRY TO RETURN THESE VEGETABLES! Perhaps even worse, I planted summer squash and zucchini... What was I thinking?!

Despite the apparent hardships associated with the work, gardening (especially growing vegetables) is a truly wonderful thing. Not only does digging in the dirt fulfill long-abandoned childhood desires to get dirty, but if viewed carefully, gardening teaches important lessons about living the Christian life.

Jesus talked about farm-labor pretty often (sometimes in ways modern westerners miss because we live so far from the land), and not just (I believe) because many, if not the vast majority of his listeners worked the soil. I'm convinced that tending a garden, and doing it well, reqires discipline and hard work that can help us hone the skills we need to be effective disciples. Just as weeds, slugs, grubs and other pests get into our gardens, so sin gets into our lives. If we neglect our gardens, they will be overrun with weeds, which will choke our productive plants, and they will bear little or no fruit. However, if we attend to our gardens dilligently, weeding and fertilizing them regularly, they will grow and produce copious fruit (oh, the zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes!). The same is true of Christian discipleship -- if we are lax about our spiritual disciplines, pray rarely, read scripture inconsistently, and neglect the renewing fellowship of the Body of Christ in worship, work and sacrament, then sin will grow into our lives, attack the core of our being, and we will produce little or no fruit -- but if we tend to our spiritual gardens, oh what glorious growth for Christ's Kingdom!

Anyone want some tomatoes? basil?? summer squash???

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Prayers of the Righteous

I coudn't sleep, so it seemed like time to actually post to my blog. The last couple of weeks have been crazy. I've spent much of the time helping my inlaws move into a new home, because my father-in-law has recurrent cancer, and needed surgery. No great joy there! However, the prognosis is as good as we could have expected. Countless people have been praying for him, and I'm convinced that has played a positive role. The prayers of the righteous avail much... right?

I guess what gets to me is the fact that I'm often reminded of just how unrighteous I really am (sometimes through self-righteousness, other times through outright sin). So I know, that amidst the chorus of righteous voices, among the prayers of the saints, ascends to God an imperfect, even seriously flawed voice -- and probably many of them. I have to be honest, I don't know what to make of that realization.

I know I need to be repentant and to accept God's grace moving me toward perfection, but I just don't feel much movement. The paradoxical solution is to pray more fervently -- despite the fact that the prayers of the righteous, not the unrighteous, are effective. Short of platitude, my only reason to hope is what I know about God's grace. Imperfect? Yes I am. A sinner? Certainly. Saved by grace and moving toward perfection? With the work of Christ, I'm sure. Now maybe I can get to sleep!