What is Growing in You?
It takes all summer, or so it seems, for our garden to start bearing fruit. But fruit comes. Watering, working the soil, amending. And when the harvest starts to come it is rewarding, like biting into the bright flesh of a flavor-full summer tomato, and you wonder what those mealy things were that you have been eating all winter.
Growth. Slow. Easy to overlook at times. Sometimes not what you were expecting, but growth nonetheless. What is growing in you? How have you grown? Is it that bright smile growth of enjoyment, or that gnawing pain like Abby who comes down the stairs groaning from time to time as her bones are expanding?
I asked our Session at our last meeting this question: how are you growing this summer? They all answered, which made me realize I hadn’t given sufficient time to my own question. It forced me to consider my own question, and with some time to percolate I’ve started to see. I think I’m learning in each season how to achieve some balance in my life, taking my health seriously, and being present to my growing kids lest I turn around and they are driving out of the driveway on their own. I am learning how to break from my parenting fundamentalism; to lean in closer to my kids, and learn how different they are from each other, and to adapt my parenting to those differences. I’m learning this takes a lot of energy, and I sometimes groan from the growth.
I’m growing through poetry and art and music. I’m soaking in the process of paring the scriptures to flexible tissue of poetry, expressing questions and emotions. I’m soaking in the conversation that these different media bring, soaking in the conversations that come after the sermon, the conversations I have with my academic friends and colleagues.
I don’t know what the end game is. Sometimes we gear life towards targeted or expected ends. I’m not sure what to expect, or know where my academic pursuits are leading, or where Calvary Presbyterian Church will be in ten years. And without known ends to aim for, it calls for a different kind of growth and movement; one not rooted in a tangible end, but growth nonetheless – pressing in, deepening, enriching, evolving, changing, fruit producing growth.
We will gather on Tuesday evening August 23rd and we will be talking of such things: Spiritual growth. We have lifted up the value of spiritual growth as a church. But what does that mean? What does it mean for you? How do we express this? How do we go about it? I hope you’ll come out on the 23rd and add your voice to the conversation. And I hope you’ll give some thought to my question, though it may take some time to percolate, as it did for me.
Grace and Peace,
The Seven of Pentacles by Marge Piercy
Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.