Saturday, August 30, 2003

The soil of the Spirit

The invitation to prayer each Sunday in this green Pentecost season begins:
Growing in the soil of the Spirit, let us pray for the church, the world, and all who seek the richness of life in God.
What a wonderful metaphor of the spiritual—and every day—life. But perhaps "growing in the soil of the Spirit" is more than a metaphor.

I picked up Soul Gardening: Cultivating the Good Life by Terry Hershey today, a contemplative book on the seduction of gardening and gardening's cure of the soul.
You are compelled to meander, if only in the garden of your mind. Better yet, the process demands putting your hands in the soil, letting the sun sedate your disquiet and warm your face, feeling your lungs fill with the honeyed sweetness of winter jasmine, or the rambling rector rose, watching a red-tailed hawk surf the currents, savoring the chamomile scent of crushed cedar leaves, allowing the garden to render its power and magic. In a world where we are enamored with image, it is in the garden we are slowly weaned off our steady diet of the spectacular, and the "real story," in order to revel in the daily, the ineffable, the sacred, the surprising. In other words, the garden is a place where it feels good to be alive. (pp. 12-13)
Hershey writes of his move to gardening and writing from a successful career as a preacher.
[T]here is no doubt that I was a success. The bigger the church, the bigger the crowd. The bigger the crowd, the greater the applause. . . .

[But] [t]o find success doesn't necessarily mean that you gain health. . . .

I did not set out to find answers, health, the good life, or even God. In fact, I did not "set out" at all. I knew only that my soul felt malnourished. Then one day I found myself in the garden, and quite without fanfare, the journey began.

Soul gardening is not a cause-and-effect proposal. It happens when you least expect it, germinating when the ground is fertile and primed. (pp. 13-14)

No comments: