“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”John 10:10
Winter brings with it the hope of Spring to come. Planning out a garden for the spring brings me hope of the new season. I think back to the last spring, our first spring in Hungary. Working silently on my rooftop, I would look over the edge and see rows of small orange tiled roofs. It’s different, tending a garden high above everyone else.
After such a quiet and dark winter, the smell of the wet soil woke up my senses. I knelt over the garden box and with one finger I pulled it along the top of the dark soil, a shallow trench following my movements. Then with my other hand I dropped seeds. A few at a time they fell into their new home. Out of the envelope and into the perfect environment for growth. Their time of waiting is over. I finish, row by row. dropping dry, seemingly dead, seeds into my garden boxes. Will they work this time?
I loosened up the soil and I promised myself I would consistently check for weeds. Not giving up that year, I successfully buried dozens of zinnia seeds. I secretly hoped they will pop up in neat little green rows and that by the end of summer they would produce an abundance of brightly colored petals. The abundance would not happen overnight. It was going to take months of tending and added rhythms to my day to intentionally care for them.
I began my garden that year with good intentions, but I still wondered, will my good intentions lead to an abundant garden?
“In the end, this is the most hopeful thing any of us can say about spiritual transformation. I cannot transform myself, or anyone else for that matter. What I can do is create the conditions in which spiritual transformation can take place, by developing and maintaining a rhythm of spiritual practices that keep me open and available to God.”Ruth Haley Barton- Sacred Rhythms
I believe that our souls can often reflect those little seeds planted. In fact, Jesus often referenced plants, soil, weeds and seeds in the word to help us understand the kingdom in a way we would relate to. Transformation happens in our soul as our daily spiritual rhythms take place. Weaving throughout our days are natural rhythms. They are not hard and don’t feel like work to get started.
As I awake in the morning, I begin my morning rhythm of getting ready. For me that means meeting my husband at the table and sitting down to a cup of coffee while entering the day slowly. A gentle reminder is all I need, the smell of the brew. Coffee is waiting and it’s time to put my feet on the floor. It’s a welcome invitation.
After coffee and breakfast, I make my way back to my room and roll out my yoga mat. Laying out my devotional book, bible and journal in front of me, I start with a short scripture.
As I stretch, I feel the short scripture making its way into my soul. Using Lectio Divina, I re-read the short passage four times over, each time praying and asking the Lord to speak to me.
A word or phrase will be brought to mind and I meditate on what the Lord wants to say to me through that short part of the scripture. Some days I really am not sure and so I offer it back to the Lord and ask him to show me. I trust him to do the work.
As I finish up my morning stretches, I sit with my journal and pen. Writing, for me, is another way I connect with God. The words flow and I can better hear his heartbeat for me. The Son is providing food for the garden of my soul.
This time all together is not long, and it does not feel like work. These quiet moments are an anchor in my morning and a daily rhythm of grace. I don’t expect one season of my life to look like the last. Each season has its own challenges and blessings. In this season, I draw the line in my soil and plant the seeds that match my circumstances.
Continuing in my day, I find little pockets of time when I can meditate again on the short scripture, I read that morning. Warm, bubbly water and a line of dirty dishes on the counter give me the gift of a mental freeload. While my hands are busy washing, my soul is connecting with the Lord again over those same words I read that morning.
If I have forgotten the seeds planted, I will ask the Spirit to give me new words to meditate on during this silence, turn on some worship music or spend time in praise and thanksgiving. The garden continues to be nurtured in little moments throughout my day. Each tiny drop adds up to a well filled cup by the end of the day.
“Pray to God for rain- it’s time for the spring rain- to God, the rainmaker, Spring thunderstorm maker, maker of grain and barley.”Zechariah 10:1 (MSG)
These spiritual rhythms in my day have become a gift. They are the water for my soul. The daily tending of my soil. Just like the seeds I whole heartedly planted, the rhythms must stay in place for an abundant growth, but they don’t need to feel heavy. The Lord’s burden is light and therefore our moments with Him should feel more like an invitation from a friend, as a reprieve of our burdens.
The cycle of planting is never done. Each season and throughout the season I will continue replanting in my treetop garden. I will try my best to keep the rhythms of watering and weeding daily so that the growth can continue at a steady rate and not choke out the new life growing. My soul tending continues in much the same way, daily rhythms set in place and good intentions to keep my soul watered, trusting in God to do the work of transformation.
Spiritual Discipline Invitation: Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina is an ancient Christian practice that began in the 6th century. It is latin for “divine reading.” It is a discipline of contemplatively reading the scriptures, in short sections, listening for the Spirit’s leading as you read. There are four main parts to Lectio Divina: reading, reflecting, responding and resting. The entire process should feel unhurried. Unlike Eastern practices, this practice does not invite you to empty your mind, instead you are practicing the presence of God by paying attention, in prayer, to what God is speaking to you through the scripture.
- Choose a short section of scripture to read through today.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to come with simple words such as, “Holy Spirit, come and meet me here.”
- Lectio- Read the short section of scripture you have chosen. Read the scripture through slowly and pay attention to a word or phrase that seems like it is speaking directly to you. Reread the scripture as many times as you need. Slowly. What word “shines?” You can read it aloud or silently. Reread the phrase or word that seems like it is meant for you today. Thank the Lord for that word.
- Meditatio- Reflect and seek understanding on how it applies to your life. Read the scripture you have chosen again and as you read it, ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand why this word is meant for you today. How does this passage connect with your life? You may need to sit in a few moments of quiet as you quiet your inner voice and wait for the words from the Spirit. If you want, you can use your imagination and picture yourself with God, receiving this word. You can also imagine yourself in the scene that is set in the story (if the verse is from a bible story). Take your time.
- Oratio- Respond in conversation with God For the third time, read the scripture again. Listen this time for your response to what you feel the Lord saying to you. What emotions do you feel? Pay attention and ask the Spirit to guide as you discover together your response. You may need to “do” something in response to this word today or you may just need to respond to the word in your time with the Lord. Spend a few moments in prayer, silence, and honesty before God. It should FEEL like an invitation from the Holy Spirit, not an unwelcome push.
- Contemplatio- Rest in God One more time, read this passage and rest in the Word of God. In these moments, release what you have heard back to the Lord and rest in the comfort He gives. Spend time yielded as you surrender your life to God and rest in Him.
- Lastly, now it is time to live it out. Throughout your day continue to think on this scripture. Mull over the words (meditate), let them continue to speak to you and sink into your soul. Carry this word with you and commit to responding to the word in action and thought.