But we were working in a rather frustrating area, a larger section on the Stations of the Cross area where we have begun an ambitious design implementation that has been particularly challenging with the extensive rains interrupted by 100 degree heat-index days. The mulch has shifted, the pre-emergence has washed down hill, the weeds are aggressive, but also we are blessed by a delightful design professional who is volunteering his gifts; that rarity at church, more men that women showing up to work which helps with rock moving, hole digging and wheel barrel operation that are beyond my capacity; a volunteer coordinator that communicates clearly, offers plenty of kindness and has a gift for finding good deals; and the so slowly developing delightful progress on what is expected to be a three year process.
Today I am struck by how I wish I had taken up gardening much earlier because it is such a good metaphor for my faith journey. I might have figured out much earlier that this thing called faith is not an event so much as a lifetime of maintenance, adjustment, growth, and readjustment. I can never design, fund, and implement a delightful garden and then sit back like I've poured a quality patio that will last decades with little maintenance. Instead I must water or deal with standing water, adjust where plants have played out or are overgrown, weed, apply pre-emergence and mulch and weed again, add new varieties of plants that may offer new colors or be more robust, and adjust when growing trees cause a garden to change from mostly sun to mostly shade. And if I go on vacation for a couple of weeks in late summer there is a very good chance that I will have A LOT of catching up to do to have a delightful fall rather than many weeks of frustration.
I can fuss, I can fume, I can complain, but in the end I either keep on keeping on, doing the watering and hoeing and tending, or my frustrations and complaints rob me of my delight. So it is with this spiritual journey thing. The fruit of the spirit grows best when tended with persistence and enthusiasm. I'm blessed by the learning as well by the serving and for me it is all worship. But I am truly most effective and much happier when I embrace both with intentionality.
Thanks Miss J. for this morning's lesson in love and service. I'll be back to weed soon.
NOTE: some of the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.