I glanced up at the landscaping along the back of our home while preparing my garden for onion sets and seed potatoes. My heart sank. Four foot weeds were growing ugly up through pachysandra, weigelia, and hostas. My immediate thoughts were work harder! work faster! I must tend to the mess at the side of our house.
In that brief moment, one of the main reasons I garden completely escaped me.
My intention was to have some quiet time with God during the simple work of planting vegetables. Practicing His presence was gone in a nano second.
My deepest apologies to Brother Lawrence.*
Predictably, the arguments inside my head began. I don’t want to focus on what I’m doing. What’s the Lord got to do with gardening anyway? It’s May already for crying out loud. This place needs to get in shape before half the summer’s over! I’ve got to get this finished so I can move on to the flower beds.
So much for that “quiet time with God.”
How often do we trade in what’s in front of us for an obsession of what lies ahead of us?
This topic surfaces often in my circle of friends and family. On our way to my cousin’s daughter’s soccer game, we chatted about trying not to hurry to the next thing on our daily agendas. So when we walked to the soccer field and got lost in the woods, we made sure to take notice of the beautiful path and lush plant life. We found a bit of delight in those moments of lostness. During the soccer game we sat in the hot sun and remarked how good the rays felt on our shoulders. Our focus on being present to simple things was refreshing.
When I discipline myself to stay present in the ordinary, I avail myself for extra-ordinary time with God. A correlation between the two has taught me to practice presence in life’s more mundane tasks, including turning soil over to plant seeds.
Weeds are going to keep growing; might as well enjoy the moment!
*The Practice of the Presence of God is a collection of teachings from Brother Lawrence, a 17th-century Carmelite monk. Compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort, the compilation includes Brother Lawrence’s letters and records of conversations about finding God in the ordinary.