On Saturday I attended the Spirituality of Gardening seminar at the Mustard Seed House in Seattle.  It was a beautiful day filled with even more beautiful people.  I learned much about the practical side of gardening here in the Northwest as well as some great insights and metaphors about God, life, and the Gospel we can learn from the garden.


Above is the beautiful Christine Sine who hosted the event for us.  She put together a binder of her writings about gardening through the seasons.  I have only just begun to look through it, though I am sure I will reference it often!  I enjoyed how she taught the event…she spoke a little, had us participate in some corporate readings/prayers, asked us questions, and had us participate in certain aspects of gardening.


One of the things that struck me from the seminar was that, in many ways, gardening is not just about planting seeds but about building up the soil.  One of the best ways to do that is by using compost.  In our world today compost is easy to come by if we go down to Home Depot and buy a bag, but then I think we miss out on the lesson from life.  Compost piles at home are created from the garbage of life.  We take our plant food scraps along with paper and our organic yard waste – all the things we would’ve thrown away – and we can put them in a bin and in a matter of months we have rich soil amendment!  How like God…He many times takes what we think is the garbage from our life and turns it into life giving material.


One of the activities we did (that I had never heard of) was to take those short nylon “footies” and cover the young fruit on the apple tree to protect it from some sort of pest.  It was fun to see everyone in and around the tree looking for the small apples.  It reminded me of the need to protect the young fruit in the lives that we disciple (especially our children).  They sometimes need us to cover them until they are formed to maturity and the threat of pests is gone.


I was also quite challenged by the idea of companion gardening – planting certain plants with one another so they actually replenish one another.  (Evidently tomatoes LOVE carrots!)  We talked about what a beautiful picture of diversity this is…how the Body of Christ needs this diversity across generations, races, denominations, etc. because we too can actually replenish one another and add nutrients to the soil that benefits another.  Christine also made the observation that when there is only one type of plant, when pestilence hits all the plants are wiped out, but when there is diversity, some of the plants may be effected but the different plants keep the bugs from wiping everything out.  Do we think there is any correlation in the church???


I think planting seeds themselves is an act of faith.  How much sense does it make to put something so small and easily crushed into a hole and cover it up with dirt so we cannot see it anymore?  And then to faithfully water the area though we see no signs of life or growth for a time?  Yet the amazing thing to me is that those small seeds can grow into the very food that gives strength and sustenance to our bodies.


Ahh…and here is that faithful watering.  I like this picture because it reminds me of what we do with one another and especially our children (for those of us who are mothers) – holding them in our hands and faithfully watering the seeds planted in them!

Just a couple of other thoughts that I wrote down (meaning they are not MY thoughts, but someone else’s):   1)  to be done well, weeding is done in a kneeling position (Should this be my place and posture for confession??)  2)  a sunflower faces East in the morning and West in the evening and tracks with the sun all day long (Oh, that I could say I track with the Son all day long!)   3)  how do we form and build sustainable spiritual practices that bring about an authentic and whole-life faith??  (within communities, the church and our homes)


So here is the whole group of us from the seminar.  I think that may have been my favorite part – meeting some really neat people and talking with them about the garden and God!  Thanks to Christine Sine who has been faithful to the stirrings that God has put in her heart and is willing to teach the rest of us!