Gardening With God in 2010

Spring is sprouting here in the Pacific NW and though it may be a little slow in other parts of the US it is definitely on the way which means that those of us who are avid gardeners are ready to get out and start planting.  And the numbers of those who are planting has definitely grown since last year.  An estimated 9 million people planted backyard vegetable gardens for the first time in 2009 and probably even more will do so in 2010.

Here at the Mustard Seed House we are starting to prepare for the Spirituality of Gardening seminar April 24th.  This was so popular last year that we ended up holding 2 day long seminars.  So if you are interested please sign up early so that we can plan ahead.  We are already planning extra day long seminars in Lynden WA on May 22nd and Hood River Oregon (date to be announced).  As well as that we expect to conduct evening seminars in other locations around the Pacific NW.

Community and backyard gardening has been one of the major responses to our turbulent times but most people do not know how to relate their garden experiences to their faith.    Yet there is no better place to connect to God and the story of God than in the garden.  In this workshop, we will discuss the wonderful ways that God and God’s story are revealed through the rhythms of planting, growing, and harvesting in the garden. Spiritual insights, practical suggestions for backyard gardening and time for reflection will all enrich and deepen our faith as we explore new ways to connect to the God we love.

Each participant will receive a copy of To Garden With God – Spiritual Insights from the Garden and other helpful resources for organic gardening in the Pacific Northwest.  Next year I hope to conduct seminars in other parts of the country too so if you are interested let me know.


End of the First Week of Lent – Summary of Reflections

During Lent this year I am focusing on Walking with Jesus Toward the Cross – How Do We Follow? At this point I have not received many personal reflections from others for me to post so if you would like to contribute a guest post there is still time to participate.  I think this is more because people are busy rather than because they do not take this question seriously I should hasten to add.  However I have received a number of links to wonderful prayers and reflections.

So if you have not followed these this last week but are still looking for prayers, meditations and reflections for the rest of Lent, here is the summary:

Morning and evening Prayers for Lent

Ash Wednesday Prayer

Who/What Is God

Lent – Educating Us Into Freedom

Acceptance, Acclimatisation, Activity

A Lenten Prayer from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent – What is Joy?

A Franciscan Benediction by Joshua Spiers

What do We Thirst For?

Two excellent videos from the 24/7 prayer network

A Meditation for Lent – Prayer as Justice

Community as Prayer – Another meditation for Lent

You might also enjoy these earlier posts

A Little Humour for Lent

Am I worshipping God for Only Me?

Getting Ready for Lent – What Could You Give Up For Haiti?

And for those that are still wondering what Lent is all about

Lent is Not a Ritual

Lent 2010 Resource List Updated

I also suggest that you check out the Steps of Justice website which is posting daily justice focused reflections for Lent

What do We Thirst For?

This morning I was reflecting on the daily post at Steps of Justice Today it is on the plight of refugees and as I read it I could not help but remember my own work with refugees in the 1980s and 90s.  Working in the refugee camps on the Thai Cambodian border turned my life upside down, and transformed my faith.  How easily I forget the pain and suffering of forgotten people like this I thought.  Particularly as I now live in comfort far from refugees and displaced people.

Then I came across the following quote in Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings. It is a reflection on Exodus 17: 1-7 by Caesarius of Arles (470 – 543) It profoundly impacted me as I thought about what stirs my heart today.  Do I really thirst for justice or am I satisfied with water? and if I do really thirst after justice how is that lived out in my life?

For what did the people Thirst?  What then does the scripture mention in what follows? “In their thirst for water the people grumbled against Moses.”  Perhaps this word that he said may seem superfluous, that the people thirsted for water. For since he said “In their thirst” what need was there to add “for water”?  Thus indeed the ancient translation has it.  Why did he add this, except because they thirsted for water when they should have thirsted for justice?  “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice.” and again “thirsty is my soul for the living God.”  Many people are thirsty, both the just and sinners, the former thirst after justice, the latter after dissipation  The just are thirsty for God; sinners for gold.  For this reason the people thirsted after water when they should have thirsted after justice.

Franciscan Benediction by Joshua Spiers

The following benediction was put together by Joshua Spiers who works with TEAR Australia.  Another great mediation for the season of Lent.  Thanks to Steve Bradbury who sent the link to me.

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent – What is Joy?

I was reflecting this morning on what brings us joy and makes us happy.  We have so distorted our understanding of these concepts moving them to the centre of our life purpose rather than seeing them as the unexpected outcome of lives dedicated to God’s purposes.  Pursuit of self brings fleeting joy and momentary happiness that often has long term consequences of suffering and pain.

Real joy and happiness do not come from pursuing self-love, self-satisfaction and self-advancement.  They well up from deep within our souls when we become aware of how our productivity has fulfilled God’s purposes. Joy comes from restoring God’s image to the lives of the marginalized and abandoned.  Enduring happiness comes from bringing into our broken world glimpses of God’s kingdom of freedom, abundance and love.

While reflecting on this today I wrote this prayer which expresses some of what I was thinking:

God we have scattered ourselves

Looking for pleasure

We are dissatisfied with wanting, tasting and getting

God we have exhausted ourselves

Running after wealth

We are drained by long hours of pressure and stress

We have diminished ourselves

Seeking glory through our own efforts

We are disillusioned by self centredness and fleeting happiness

We have not found joy

In self-love, self satisfaction or self exultation

God have mercy and forgive us

Restore to us the joy of your salvation

Renew a right spirit within us

May we live well and enjoy productive and righteous lives

May we find our joy in serving you

And discover real happiness in loving others

May we find in the you the way, the truth and the life


Good Natured Earthling Recommends Nettles for Allergies

Spring has sprung rather early here in the Pacific NW.  With a week of sunny cold mornings and warm days this last week the trees have all burst into spectacular bloom…. which is wonderful except for the fact that it has brought out every allergy anyone in this area ever suffered from.  Being among the sufferers I have been looking around for relief.  Here is one possibility I found intriguing because there are lots of nettles in this area.

Nettles, eaten freely and drunk as a tea will, over time, feed our adrenals and kidneys, help to heal and strengthen the lung tissue and intestines, tonify the arteries, nourish the hair, help to promote lots of rich milk in lactating mothers and can even help to prevent or lessen the strength of seasonal pollen based allergy attacks. Congested? Try eating nettle pesto (recipe below), drinking nettle juice or nettle decoction and find swift relief. Nettles are anti inflammatory and can help with many ailments where inflammation is present.  Read more here

And check out Good Natured Earthling’s recipe for Nettle pesto here I have not had a chance to try it yet but would love to give it a go.

Justice At the Table

Ricci Kilmer will be hosting the seminar Justice at the Table again here at the Mustard Seed House in Seattle.  I was really impacted by what she shared at this event last year and am looking forward to attending again.  I think that this is a great topic to be challenged by during the season of Lent.

Where our food comes from, how it is produced and who we invite to eat with us at the table are all important issues that we need to grapple with.  Issues of fair trade, use of pesticides, poverty and sustainable lifestyles are all justice issues that revolve around the table and Ricci has some wonderful insights on these.

We will explore together the intricate connections between our faith and the food we eat.  We will challenge ourselves and each other to bring our eating and buying practices more in line with our beliefs and draft a “Justice at the Table Plan” to help us implement the changes we hope to make.  Register here

Community as Prayer – another meditation for Lent

Here is another of the 24/7 prayer network’s videos.  I really resonated with the desire to live a rhythm of life that flows out of faith rather than the culture around us.  In fact what they are discovering is very similar to my own journey and what I shared at the Rhythms of grace workshop on Saturday.  Christian community is not about living together for the fun of it but rather about entering into a new way of life together.  The pressures of our culture to conform to a consumer driven, high paced way of life that there is no way we can stand against this on our own.

A Meditation for Lent – Prayer as Justice

The 24/7 prayer network has produced some incredible which I thought were appropriate to the Lenten season and the question Walking With Jesus to the Cross: How Do We Follow? Thanks to Jason Fowler for making me aware of them.

A Lenten Prayer from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This morning I came across this beautiful prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my heros who always challenges me with what it means to follow Jesus as we walk towards the cross.  It formed the centre of my meditation this morning – so challenging knowing where his journey led.  This prayer was used as one of the Lenten meditations in The Mosaic Bible

I Cannot Do This Alone

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.

Help me to pray

And to concentrate my thoughts on you;

I cannot do this alone.

In me there is darkness,

But with you there is light;

I am lonely, but you do not leave me;

I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;

I am restless, but with you there is peace.

In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;

I do not understand your ways,

But you know the way for me….

Restore me to liberty,

And enable me to live now

That I may answer before you and before men.

Lord whatever this day may bring,

Your name be praised.