Let It Grow {The Grove: Wait}

I planted Mammoth Russian Sunflowers, five in a row in the bed on the side of my house. I didn’t have to wait long before five little green shoots came up between old mulch chips. I had high hopes for attracting pollinators to our raised beds of vegetables, a harvest of seeds, and cheerful big bright flowers.

Per the instructions on the packet, I planned to plant another round of seeds two weeks later to stagger the growth and prolong the presence of sunflowers.

I suspect chipmunks.

One morning, there was a tiny hole in place of a sprout. The next day there were a couple more holes and a couple less sprouts. By the end of the week, all of the tender little shoots were gone.

I wish those chippers could have known that if they had waited, there would have been more food to feed more creatures, themselves included.

I am like them.

I get scritchy scratchy about scarcity. I find a little scrap here and there and devour it like I may never see another morsel as savory. I do not consistently trust that if I listen, wait, and watch—which is prayer—I won’t ever have to muscle my way through anything.

Two seeds are sprouting in my spirit. The first is patience, and the second is repentance. Their root systems are entwined.

I was talking with my spiritual director about scarcity of time, and she said that people who are skilled in time management are often impatient. Boom.

She drew my attention to people that I admire, and asked me to notice how they move. Slowly and deliberately. Unhurried and purposefully. This seems like an impossible combination, but one that entrances me when I spot it.

This is repentance: the sobriety to see something clearly and make a change that is within reach. In contrast, repentance is not a recounting to God what we ought to be and aren’t. That’s a dreaded desolate humiliating place. No wonder we avoid it.

Repentance is instead a sweet place to come upon in the company of Kindness, a fertile place of springs and rain that yields green growth and a delightful promise of produce.

The prophetic literature in Scripture describes places like this as an inheritance. It still feels mysterious, but it seems that inheritance has something to do with joy, that our inheritance as God’s people is Joy.

Joy is like sunflowers that delight for their sheer existence and nourish many creatures. So, it’s time for me to plant more seeds, but this time in containers where I can water, watch, and guard them until they’re hearty enough to repel chipmunk threats on their own. Then I’ll plant them in the earth where they can bloom and grow, and attract pollinators and passersby.

I find it much easier to wait for plants to grow than for the fruit of the Spirit to grow, in myself and others. But gardening novices like me have a naïve view of what it takes to get a harvest worthy of the labor and resources it requires. Those that depend on their produce for their livelihood or their sustenance know that waiting is hard. It’s active and engaged, aligned with the needs of the plants and the soil, and attentive to a variable climate.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun describes waiting as a crucible, and this sounds about right. It’s the crucible that helps develop a mellow heart, which is well suited for Joy. I expect that is what God is after.

So, we come again to transformation, that lifelong task of Christ being formed in a person. It is worth waiting for. And this kind of waiting doesn’t diminish us, it enlarges us so that waiting becomes as good as obtaining.[i]

What are you growing? How are you growing?

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[i] Romans 8:22-25 in The Messages

10 Comments

  1. Joyce Stauffer June 16, 2016

    Beautifully written, Kim!  Thanks!  I can relate to the planting and waiting too…  I love seeing the green and growth of my plants but get impatient when nothing seems to be happening.  True in my own life as well!  Thanks for sharing. (Oh, was thinking maybe rabbits are eating your seedlings?–plenty of them around here!)

    1. Kimberly Todd June 17, 2016

      Thanks, Joyce! Could be the rabbit neighbors, but they seem to keep to the back and stay away from the street, which is busy even at night with trucks. I love seeing pictures of what you’re growing!

  2. Elizabeth June 16, 2016

    Again, Kimberly, your words are Life. Thank you for gifting them to us.

  3. Jodie June 16, 2016

    Kimberly, I love what you wrote about repentance: “This is repentance: the sobriety to see something clearly and make a change that is within reach. In contrast, repentance is not a recounting to God what we ought to be and aren’t. That’s a dreaded desolate humiliating place. No wonder we avoid it.
    Repentance is instead a sweet place to come upon in the company of Kindness, a fertile place of springs and rain that yields green growth and a delightful promise of produce.”

  4. SarahW June 19, 2016

    This was beautifully expressed – thank you for sharing.
    So many good and beautiful things are grown or formed through hardships and waiting – rushing the process would ruin the end result. A good reminder in the hardness of waiting.
    I was reflecting also on God as the one who waits – like the father awaiting the return of the prodigal, or waiting for the elder brother to accept the invitation to joy. I need more of His patience in waiting for that inheritance while simultaneously enjoying the portion He offers to me in the here and now.
    Thanks again, your words found resonance with me this week.

    1. Kimberly Todd June 20, 2016

      Sarah, the story of the prodigal child has come up for me in several places in the past couple of days. It’s time for me to pay attention and revisit the story. Thanks for the signpost.

      I love the way you wrote about the both/and of waiting well and enjoying the present portion. Right on.

  5. Michele Womble June 19, 2016

    Love this lines,  Kimberly,

    “Those that depend on their produce for their livelihood or their sustenance know that waiting is hard. It’s active and engaged, aligned with the needs of the plants and the soil, and attentive to a variable climate.”

    Waiting isn’t just sitting around – it’s “active and engaged”  – even at those times when I can’t do anything at the moment, I want to  still be watching and waiting and engaged – an eye on the weather and on the plants – aware.

    1. Kimberly Todd June 20, 2016

      Thanks, Michele! I love to see what lines stood out to individual readers. Aware is such a good word. I’m also noticing awake a lot right now.

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