It’s hard to find words for how much contentment and joy I feel watering the plants in our small community herb garden.
I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I think it has something to do with the fact that it can’t be rushed. I may have 10,000 other things waiting for me on my ‘to-do’ list, but watering the plants takes as long as it takes. There’s no shortcut; I may as well just enjoy it.
Of course, being outside is nice as well, and it’s always good to get out from behind a desk. But it’s especially nice to slow down, to breathe, and to just be. I find that watering the garden relaxes me, makes me feel less anxious, and allows me space to experience that otherwise elusive feeling of contentment (even if just for a moment). This always leads me to joy.
Spending time watering the plants also allows me to be present. I’m there with the plants, and I’m able to notice if they’re healthy, or to check for pests or diseases or nutrient deficiencies. It gives me time to check to see where seeds might be ready for collection, or if there are small seedlings already popping up through the soil. I’m there already, so I may as well deadhead some flowers while I’m at it.
Perhaps I’m pushing it a bit far, but I think what I’m learning from the herb garden also helps me to be a better pastor.
I am, by nature, an impatient person. I’ve got ideas and plans and schemes and I want them all to happen now! I’ve got hopes and dreams for our community, and there never seems to be enough time (or resource, or whatever) to make it all come together.
What I’m learning is that I can’t force it.
I’m learning to slow down; where else do I need to be? I’m learning to be present, to engage fully with the people who are in front of me (rather than already planning the next meeting). I’m learning to notice what’s going on, and to engage in the slow, sometimes frustrating, and always-rewarding work of learning to live together in community.
I certainly don’t have it all figured out just yet. I might go out and water the garden.