It's been a long spring/winter in Michigan this year. We had snow all the way through April, and even into the first week of May! But even as the snow fell, I found that I was receiving inspiration and hope from the unlikeliest of sources... a parsley plant.
Why? You ask... because I never expected it! This parsley was a gift from a gardening friend last summer. When she offered me the sad little sprouts, I thought to myself, "I don't even like parsley much."
But then the tiny little sprout turned into this by late summer. And I started putting parsley into everything - salads, smoothies, scrambled eggs, etc. It was just so eager to give that it seemed a waste to not receive what it was offering. Finally, the snow covered it, and we said goodbye.
But then, in mid-March, our faithful friend began to emerge again. I was shocked. I hadn't imagined it would come back for another growing season. (I later discovered it's biennial)
The Power of Roots
Witnessing the parsley inspired me to notice all the other things that pop up year after year. And all because of their established roots.
Roots created thriving growth. We all know it to be true. Once the roots are set, the plants will flourish with very little care.
What we don't often remember is the reality that roots are establishing themselves whether we're paying attention or not. This includes the obnoxious thistles, clover, violets, garlic mustard, french broom, and buckthorn I'm always trying to tame.
I had major surgery this spring and wasn't able to get out into my flowerbeds early. And so they ended up looking like this.
Unruly. Erratic. Cluttered. Tangled.
When everything is allowed to grow unchecked, it produces something less than lovely.
When the roots are there, they'll continue to throw up shoots and leaves - year after year - unless you dig them out.
You Know Where I'm Going...
You know what I'm going to say, right? It's like this with our spiritual lives, our habits, our relationships. If we don't tend to what's growing and choose wisely what we nurture, we become erratic, cluttered, tangled, bound up... a "hot mess" as some like to say.
But this isn't something we need to resign ourselves to. God is in the business of pulling up weeds and flourishing beauty. And with a little participation, we can enjoy the beauty of a life ordered by peace and joy.
Joining the Gardener
But where do we get started? When I approach a bed of weeds like the one above, I have choices to make. Pull, dig, cut... what action will help me feel hopeful, rather than overwhelmed? What small start can I make to encourage me to carry on?
Often, because of the kind of work I do, I only have about 10 minutes at a time to stop and pull weeds. So I need to constantly choose bite-sized pieces that I can incorporate into my day.
With patience and perseverance, the unruly mess can turn into ordered peace.
And so the same is true with our spiritual lives, our behaviors, our relationships.
Tiny Bits of Time
Small, 10-minute increments can be enough to encourage new roots and dig out old patterns. Simple things like breathing, recalling joyful memories, intentionally appreciating others and expressing gratitude can nourish the plants you're wanting to flourish. And reframing, rehearsing, and releasing can keep the weedy nonsense from taking a firm hold.
It doesn't take an intensive time away from your life to sort these things out... rather, with a few regular, tiny increments of time in the middle of your life, you can see shifts and changes in your garden.
Practice Makes Roots
In other posts, I've talked about how important practice is. Practice never makes perfect, but practice deepens roots.
The more often you practice habits, the more firmly they take root in your life. This means when the cold comes and when the snow covers you, the roots hold firm to grow again.
And before you know it, a riotous cluster of blossoms shows up when you least expect it!
If you're wanting to explore small ways to shift what you're growing in your body and soul garden, check out my "Rooted" course.
It's never too late to clear back some weeds and see new life emerge!