Preparations begin…

No matter how familiar the Thanksgiving menu, it’s still a lot of work to get the turkey in the oven and the fixin’s on the table. Shopping, cleaning, and making sure everyone gets home are tasks already begun. There are still a few outdoor chores to do as well – getting the leaves raked and bagged, putting away the hose and collecting the garden tools. It’s the same every year before Thanksgiving because it’s time to prepare for the winter months as much as it is time to prepare dinner. Isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving? Giving thanks for the bounty of the earth as we approach a time when the earth sleeps and nothing grows? In the season of canning and drying, storing apples, cranberries, sage, and other herbs for use during the cold months, I sometimes forget what a counter-intuitive act of faith it is to throw a feast when summer’s bounty had come to an end. Would I be as generous with my Thanksgiving meal if I had to depend on what I’d grown and preserved to get me through to Spring? With a market right down the street supplying more than I’ll ever need in the cold months, it’s hard to know the answer.

I think preparing for this Harvest celebration is trying to teach me something more than gratitude for the food on the table and loved ones around it. I’ve been wondering lately about the garden that is my spiritual life. What are the fruits of this harvest? If I’m honest, there have been many times I’ve neglected to tend this inner spiritual space. I can name quite a few of the weeds that choke its growth because I haven’t put in the time to pull them out – impatience, arrogance, and lack of gratitude come to mind. As far as I know, there is no spiritual grocery store down the street: My spirit lives on what I’ve grown in my God-given garden.

The older I get, the more I realize that my inner spiritual garden becomes more and more visible as I age. How I treat others, especially those whose actions or attitudes frustrate me, is a glimpse into the state of my spiritual growth. Like everyone, I am imperfect and easily broken. If I don’t tend to my spiritual life, I will push my own brokenness on others. If I don’t want to do that, it’s going to take some inner work. If I want enough generosity of spirit to celebrate the bounty of this life, if I want to share what I’ve been given rather than hoard it for myself, it’s time to do some gardening…

 

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “Preparations begin…”

  1. Thank you for this one Johnna! It definitely makes me think of my own spiritual garden and what is growing there. Looking closely, there would be many of the same weeds there that you mentioned and perhaps a lot more pruning and cultivating is in order!
    From my standpoint, however, as a fellow gardener, your “spiritual garden” appears most beautiful and bountiful to me!

  2. You are very kind, Debbie. The music that you offer others is a sure sign of a growing inner garden, and a grace to all of us lucky enough to experience it. Peace, Johnna

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