This weekend we will be out in the garden getting it ready for winter. This is the time when we pull the last of the now rather bedraggled tomato plants, disconnect the hoses, bring tender perennials inside, cover pots so that they don’t fill with water and rake the last of the autumn leaves so that they don’t clog the drains. In other words we are getting the garden ready to rest.
Why don’t we prepare ourselves to rest too I wonder? Our bodies are telling us that it is time to slow down but few of us listen. In fact we often get angry and try everything we can to reverse the body’s inclinations. And to make it worse, if you are like me, the next couple of months will become a frenzy of activity as we prepare for Christmas and the end of the year. Friends to contact, presents to buy, letters to write, parties to plan. The list seems endless.
So what can we do to help us prepare for this season? Here are some things that winterizing the garden has suggested to me this year that I plan to try to implement.
- Clean up the dead plants in my life. There are so many distracting and unnecessary dead plants in my life that need to be thrown into the compost bin. – especially too much time spent on Facebook and email. And hopefully if I throw them into the compost bin now they can be transformed and renewed for the season of spring growth.
- Bring tender perennials inside. One question I am learning to ask at this season is What aspects of my life do I need to nurture with some extra TLC so that they will survive and flourish in the future?
- Cover pots so they don’t fill with water. This is one that I learned by bitter experience last year as my pots filled to overflowing and killed the waterlogged plants inside. There are aspects of my life that need to be allowed to rest without the drenching, killing rain of the Christmas season. Preserving them so that they are not vulnerable to the onslaught of the season is very important. One way that Tom and I have found to do this is by setting aside retreat time during the days of Advent. Scheduling those times now so that they do not get filled with other things is essential.
- Raking up the autumn leaves. Clogged drains and gutters lead to flooded basements, that too I have learned from bitter experience. So what are the aspects of my life that clog the free flow of God’s spirit? What needs to be cleaned away so that the water of God can flow uninterrupted into the drainage system cleaning away the remaining debris?
- Plant cover crops. One of the greatest organic garden techniques which to be honest I rarely get to do, is the planting of nitrogen rich high energy producing greens that can be tilled under in the spring to provide that life-giving energy boost to all the new spring crops. So the question I ask myself this morning is What are the green manure, high energy disciplines I should be planting in my life right now in order to give full benefit to the spring crops I plant? As I think about this I realize once more how the foundational spiritual disciplines of prayer and quiet reflection as well as times of retreat at this season, are to my growth for next year. And they are so easily neglected.
So my question for all of us today is – How do we prepare for the coming year so that the garden of our lives flourishes into a new season? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.