Monday, February 11, 2013

Pineapples on their way

Three pineapple fruits are on their way. They were started from tops of regular grocery store fruits about three years ago. They didn't take much maintenance. In fact, I didn't do anything after I planted them, except hope for fruits. Helpful to live in Miami.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Burn and Turn

Even now as I am familiar writing the date 2013, I look back over the sabbatical time in 2012 and continue reflect on the nature of 'sabbatical' and it's impact.
The third metaphor for the year involved utter destruction- burn it down.

Many people don't want to wait for composting. They pile up their garden, their leaves, their clippings, etc and burn it all.  It's usually intentional. Sometimes if your pile of compost is large enough and the decay raises the temperature enough, it can spontaneously combust.  The ashes provide nutrients. The decayed matter provides ground cover. The useless is removed. Room is made for new growth and support is there for it as it grows.

If this metaphor is applied to my 2012, combustion was not intentional, and it wasn't exactly spontaneous but thinking of it burning is helpful. It is helpful because of another burning image.

There is the image of the phoenix. Harry Potter's fans know because of the headmaster's avian companion, Fawkes. There is a quote Dumbledore;
"About time, too. He's been looking dreadful for days; I've been telling him to get a move on."
Albus Dumbledore about his phoenix Fawkes after Fawkes burst into flames.[src]
Fawkes the phoenix, periodically died by bursting into flames (an event called a "Burning Day"), and was then reborn from the ashes. It takes a while. He doesn't came back quickly, red plumage ready to take flight, all pristine and proud on his perch. There is some ugly, some rest, and regrowth.

This sabbatical time had me wondering just how often does our life, our ministry, our work, just need to burst into flame and start a new. If we keep it contained, we keep it the right size, it won't combust. If we manage, and plod along, do the same things, it won't surprise us much.

Maybe I'll choose some flame from time to time.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sabbtical as Pruning

Sabbatical has had significant impact on me. This year-long process was important but it took some serious imagery to get my mind around it. Even as the year draws to a close I'm still working through it and feel it will be a while until I'm on the other side. One of the images was of pruning.

I've spent a lot of time in the Biblical chapter, John 15. It's Jesus talking to his disciples in their waning time together. Might not be exactly their last night, but it's in their last days at least.
It's the chapter with "I am the vine and you are the branches." Which although is incredibly popular, I don't know of a praise or children's tune that uses this imagery. There was a short devotional book written around it in the late 90's that caught my attention.

There is some serious pruning discussed in verses 5-10.
My thoughts: Pruning hurts.
Pruned branches don't compost well. They are stiff and woody and end up burned.
Pruning isn't self inflicted- but of course what vine has access to loppers.
Some pruning sets the plant back a few years.

I have been trying to grow grapes over the last four years. Literature taught me grapes will flower on two-year old vine. This means your pruning today is planned on to your pruning next year so you'll have bigger better grapes the year after that.

If you're a grape vine, good pruning can take you out of productivity for two years.

I don't want to hear that. I want the short snip. Cut the head off the dead rose bloom and let me get to blooming again this year.

But pruning is essential to better fruit. That's the promise. The nice words they say when you feel like shriveled blooms, crusty leaves and unbending woody beginnings and fruitless attempts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Sabbatical time could be a "fallow" season.
Fallow is often viewed as the field laying at rest. Do no work. Leave the fields unplanted. It might be serene. Maybe former seeds volunteer to bloom. Maybe wildflowers mix with some very green weeds, but in any case, it's still a fairly pretty image.

A more realistic view of the fallow field may not be so ideal- certainly in a tropical climate. There may be a lot of ugly weeds. Some fields are grown in conditions constantly fighting back the weeds. Left to their own, they take over. The thought of kudzu comes to mind, a literal take over.
There maybe several old seeds still sprouting. Some good seed or some bad crop ideas. Some sprouts getting choked by the weeds.
It could be a total mess.
It's a fight between civilization and wild. Tamed versus unruly.

For a short time- Maybe the brambles and the vines need to stretch. Maybe irregular rain and lots of sunshine just need to reign. Maybe the weeds and the sprouts need to fight it out and let the tension release.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sabbatical Time

I'm taking some sabbatical time this summer.
First let me say how wonderful it is that I work in a organization that allows for sabbaticals.
Second I have to say how anxious I was taking time away from work that I love. When you like what you do, it seems silly to take time away.
Last, I had a difficult time getting my head around what a sabbatical was to be for me.
Gardening offers useful metaphors. There is the Levitical command to leave the fields fallow every seventh year. There is pruning of fruit trees and vines. There is also the more extreme "burn it down and plow it under."

With a large chunk of time and adventurous family, we made a plan that put to use my anxious energy.
But being two-thirds through it, Is like sitting in the midst of a weedy field, the pile of shriveled branches and the ashes of burn.
The miracle of sabbath, is like the miracle of gardening. God sends the sun and the rain. And heck, God sent all the original seeds too. The plants grow without us. Some even better than they did with our help. We aren't nearly as productive as we think we are.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pile of Leaves Miami Style

What the majority of the US population does in the fall, we do in the spring. We gather the limbs, palm fronds, and tropical invaders into a pile on the curb. But we don't jump into the pile and frolic. We leave it to the rhino spiders and 200 ant species that get that privilege.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Risk Love and Courage

Just as I sat slightly anxiously considering the risks today.
Today three churches are gathering together. They're mixing food (culture,) music (culture,) and party conversation (culture.) I had already dealt with the anxious thoughts of weather and attendance. This morning is gorgeous and a lot of folks are coming.
These new thoughts went to- tribal risks. What if something breaks and each tribe starts to blame the other church? What if any of the food, music, conversations start to stress those cultural understandings and cross into misunderstandings?
Oh Dear Lord.
And just as the thought formed words, the pastor introduced the "new layer of love" he has been meditating about recently. Romans 5:5.
Love is poured out into our hearts. This love grows a courage. That courage will allow three churches to gather. That love will allow three tribes to worship God in the neighborhood God placed them in. That love is God.

It is going to be a great day. Without such love, there is great risk. But today there is great courage.