Apr 30, 2017

The Most Empowering Gardening Advice You Will Ever Receive

From novice container gardeners to master gardeners, everyone who has ever donned a pair of gloves and held a small shovel with hope in their heart can benefit from this wisdom.

It came from Paul Gautschi, the inventor of the Back to Eden Garden method and an arborist by trade.  It went something like this, "You are the gardener, you decide where things go.  You are in charge.  If you did not plant something, remove it.  If something becomes overgrown or becomes an obstacle take it out.  Unproductive and barren things will respond to pruning but dead things must be buried."

I spent about 80 hours in the garden this season, cleaning, moving, and being relentless in the application of this advice.  I have to admit up until now I have been an Adam Smith "Invisible Hand" sort of gardener.  If a plant self-sowed or the birds brought me a specimen, more often than not I was a "live and let live" kind of gal.  The result was chaotic and a mismatched jumble of discordant plants, heights, and random black-eyed Susans scattered across a neglected perennial garden.

Today, I look out across the beds and there is order from chaos and a satisfaction from a job well done.  All the black-eyed Susans are regathered in a reasonable space, the tall verbena has been replanted along the back wall instead of in the border rocks and walkway.  SIXTY feet of honeysuckle has been pulled out by hand and is relentlessly eradicated from a two hundred square foot section it had taken over.  The random Autumn Joy Sedum is in the shade instead of withering pathetically in the sun.  Those horrible bulbs that never bloomed, took up a ton of space, and always looked like they were thirsty?  They are in the trash.  The diseased raspberry canes?  I was merciless in their eradication.  The volunteer asparagus plant that sprung up at the entrance to the vegetable garden?  Dug up and moved to the asparagus patch.  Paul's advice is sound, in life as well as in the garden.   You are in charge.

Apr 15, 2017

When God is Dead - Holy Saturday

Abigail and Dolley readers I don't know if I've ever heard preaching on this subject and perhaps this is a word the Lord would have me give as it was birthed from the lowest point in my life.  The moment when God seems to be gone, Holy Saturday.  Launched that agonizing moment on the Cross when Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  Saturday, minus the physical horror of the cross is in some ways the darkest day of all.  This is the day that Jesus' body lay in the tomb.

To the followers of Christ, this must have been the worst day of their lives.  Think about it for a minute, forget your knowledge of the Resurrection, forget that you know the end of the story, simply go to the upper room with me and imagine.

Holy Saturday
The Apostles are hiding, certain they will be killed if found.  The fear of gruesome death and humiliation torments them.  They have lived with Roman oppression, they know what happened to Jesus.  He was the most powerful man on Earth and they killed him, how vulnerable they must have felt! Peter did not deny knowing Christ without a reason. How terrified would you be waiting for the knock at the door that signaled they had come for you?

Their friend Judas had betrayed the Lord and was gone.  He had fallen prey to the lies of the Devil himself.  With Jesus out of the way, the poor disciples who had cast out demons in Jesus name must surely know that the hoards of Hell were coming after them.  With Jesus dead, they would be fresh meat for the demons.  

Judas was the caretaker of the money for the group and it stands to reason he would have taken all of their funds with him when he left.  So they are broke, with a price on their heads, and they are trapped.  They have no way to pay off anyone to help them escape, how are they going to get food?  The followers of Jesus had scattered and the people of Jerusalem had called for the Lord's Crucifixion, without funds there is no one to help them.

Then there is the disillusionment.  These men had given up everything to follow Jesus - homes, families, business, position in the community.  I am sure there were those in their families that thought they were crazy, that condemned them for not doing the "responsible" thing and leading a normal life.  I am sure there were a few Mother-in-laws who had condemned them for leaving home and hearth to follow this rabbi.  As they sat in the upper room that day, they had to face the crushing possibility that they had been wrong and everyone else had been right.  Had they wasted the last three years?

Jesus had predicted his own death about a dozen times, but from all accounts, His words seem to have been hidden from the Apostles.  It was like Jesus had spoken in code and they had not heard or understood what He was saying.  There had been no Pentecost, there was no Holy Spirit speaking to them, they were totally in the dark.  This is demonstrated by their disbelief on Easter morning and Thomas' rejection of the testimony of the ten.  So I do not believe that they took comfort and hope that Jesus would rise again, this Saturday did not serve that purpose.

Curled Up in Grief
Holy Saturday was designed to buffet the Apostles.  It was designed for them to reflect.  It was designed to bring them to the lowest points in their lives and to prepare them for the work to come.  Holy Saturday is what Christianity would be without the Resurrection - dead.

I believe we all have Holy Saturdays in our lives.  Our dreams, hopes, aspirations and loved ones are taken away on Friday.  We curl up in hiding, mourning, and fear on Saturday.  Saturday is lonely and scary but take heart Sunday is on the way.  On Sunday there is victory, new life, and resurrection!  Praise God.  (Originally Published on 04/23/2011)