this silence

holds no hands

with peace


Melange: my daily mix



collided with Aaron Shust’s song of hope

through the last morning stoplights.

Five solid hours of filing, yet unfinished

slammed into belly laughs with coworkers.

Lost pens, dropped calls, software crashes

melted away with the first bite

of peach pie, nuanced with nutmeg:

my caring sister’s sweet surprise.

A forgotten payment, still on the counter

rear-ended my stolen reading minutes

but didn’t sour the apple cider tea party

I promised my daughter two days ago.

Our teacups’ tiny clinks whispered calm.

Bluegill fried crisp from our own pond

compensated for charred rice and soggy broccoli.

One spread of hand-washed dishes

shushed the pervasive chaos.

Disrespectful words before bed

dissipated as I breathed practice notes

in my flute to old praise hymns.

Isaiah’s vision in my daily verses

rerouted my thoughts

to this morning’s song:

My hope is in You, Lord.

Overgrown–Fall Schedule

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2 NIV

In this busy fall schedule, I’m already out of balance. Opportunities abound—more working hours, upcoming conferences, extracurricular activities. My center stagnates—exercise, family time, household maintenance, leisure, and sleep. I need to cut back somehow.

When I planted my garden in 2006, I set out 16 strawberry plants in a single row. I was too distracted by the needs of my young children to spend much time tending the garden. In three years those original plants multiplied by the hundreds, completely filling a 10’ x 16’ garden swath. By 2009 the berries were amazingly abundant—we picked three quarts per day for three weeks. But the row was so wide that we couldn’t get to berries at the row’s center without smashing precious others. Our harvest was plenty, but chaos loomed.

The next year (2010) the plants produced less prolifically and the berries were smaller. I read up on the plants, learning that berry farmers continually replace two- to three-year-old plants with runners from new plants. They must destroy the old plants to renew the crop and produce a plentiful harvest.

The situation overwhelmed me. Destroy hundreds of plants at the center and transplant dozens more at the edge? That could take a whole weekend I wasn’t willing to spend. I felt guilty for letting my garden get so out of control. I felt grieved about destroying plants that were still producing, though on a smaller scale. Frustrated, I put off my decision another few weeks, the whole garden suffering in wait.

One hot day as I push-mowed the garden’s perimeter, I brazenly cut down one square yard of strawberry plants. Expecting the crush of guilt, I was surprised by enormous relief. I mowed the whole row down and felt the weight of guilt lifting with each forward step. I saved plenty of runners to transplant, which I later moved into a closed bed to keep the plants under control.

This weekend I’m going to reflect on this Bible verse and my gardening experience. I want to destroy what’s consuming valuable space in my schedule—like too much time online. I want to transplant the healthy opportunities into a controlled area so they don’t overtake my schedule—such as setting a timer for writing. I want to maintain the necessary areas at my center so I have peace.

I will never achieve perfect balance. I will always have a wild runner invading tended space. I will always have a dead plant or two that need to be destroyed. However, I will no longer beat myself up with guilt. If I want to be fruitful in my spiritual life and my daily living, I need to tend my garden daily, both planting and pruning by God’s direction.

What do you need to prune from your schedule to increase fruit? What can you replant?