Thursday, August 1, 2013

On gardening and the spiritual life

I went out to my much neglected garden to weed today.  I have a small garden and very little in it still.  Our lettuce and spinach has long been eaten. Our sugar snap peas and our beets too.  Now, we only have tomatoes and spaghetti squash left.

Our spaghetti squash vines have been growing robustly.  One had even grown its way onto our deck and was winding its way around our patio chairs.  I looked forward to scouting out squash on the vine while weeding.

But, as I weeded, I noticed some squash leaves, here and there, that had yellowed, and other, smaller portions, of the vines that did not look very healthy.  I remembered a friend talking about something called a squash vine borer, a little grub that eats the vine on the inside.  She said if you can find it, just kill it and then bury that portion of the vine and the vine will be fine.  So that is eactly what I did.  I found the little grub that was eating away at the interior of the vine, removed it, and then buried that portion of the vine.

Good, I thought.  All doneThe vine will be fine I will get nice, beautiful, healthy spaghetti squash.  I could already taste the fruit of the vine!

But as I went to grab a few more weeds, I saw another portion of the same vine that looked suspect.  Then another. And another.  I worked the grubs out, buried the vine.  But I was starting to lose hope that this plant would be OK.  Finally, I worked my way to the main portion of the vine, the oldest part.  And I found, several, large grubs that had eaten most of  interior of the vine.

I was frustrated.  The vine looked so healthy.  The leaves were big and beautiful and green.  Bright orange flowers lined the vine perfectly.

As I realized that I am no gardener and that God may be trying to tell me that I just might be better off supporting local farmers, who truly know what they are doing, I decided to count my losses and pull the vine.

There was no saving that vine.  As I pulled it out, I saw evidence of other spots that other little grubs had burrowed their way in and began eating.  I am not sure how long this vine would have duped me with it's healthy appearance, but it was truly being eaten out on the inside.

And I thought of sin and the spiritual life.  After all, Jesus did say HE is the vine and we are the branches.  God, the vine dresser.  Those little borers were just like sin left unchecked, unconfessed.  They may start small and only affect a small area of ourselves.  Most people would not even be able to see the affects of the sin.  But, if we ignore them, do not confess them, they get bigger, eat away at us just a little bit more.  Until, we are overrun with our sins.  Getting bigger, eating at the core of us, attempting to completely corrode our very soul.

Praise God, though, HE is a faithful and diligent vine dresser, and when we call upon HIM, when we go to confession, He can repair any vine. Even a vine that is overrun with sin.  Even a vine that all others would look at and say there is no hope, it is too damaged.  Yet, nothing, no one is beyond HIS grace and HIS healing.

Remain in HIM.
  I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  John 15: 1-11

This little gardening exercise today made me want to go to confession just a little bit more.  Because I am happier and just plain nicer when I go to confession frequently.  The more I go, the more I desire to go to confession, to get pruned, to root out those little grubs that are just tyring to eat at me and destroy me.  My Father is just waiting for me to allow HIM to help me bear more fruit; for myself, for my family, for the world.


  1. What a spot-on reflection. "...He can repair any vine..." Exactly right, and all too often what I need to hear. I think we sometimes let ourselves get duped into thinking that we are too far gone for our vines to be repaired...and make matters even worse!!
    Thank you.