Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Somebody gave me the book Sacred Rhythms. I love it. Barton writes with an easy style that draws me in.

She opens with a whole section on desire, and I could not help remembering at least three other books I've read recently that also broach this subject. Each book pinpoints desire as a starting place for Christian and creative growth.

Says Barton, "Opening up our desire in God's God a chance to help us sort it all out....It enables us to rise up from our place by the side of the road so that we can actually get on the path to spiritual transformation and follow Christ." (p.26-27)

I want to believe this. I like the idea that maybe something in me knows where I need to go, at the "longing" level— whether it be in my spiritual life or my writing life or even my family life. But I am not sure. I'm also intrigued by the whole emphasis on desire. I suspect that Barton and other authors are touching a cultural point of need (or desire!).

What do you think this is about? Is it important to pay attention to our longings and desires? Lend me your thougths, for I desire to know.

Painting by Charity Singleton. Used with permission.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.


Yay! I did it!

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Weeding After

Holy Spirit

When I see a weed in the garden, I just want to pull it. Isn't that what you do with weeds?

But Berry observed that the Peruvian farmers knew how to wait. They let the weeds grow right alongside the crops, until the crops were well established. Only then did the farmers pull out the weeds.

Waiting. This is not my strong suit. I've planted something good! I see weeds that might choke out my planting! Rip! Oops. Weeds in my hand. My crop in my hand. Why didn't I wait?

Proverbs says, "... one who moves too hurriedly misses the way." 19:2

I consider that Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem, for the promise of the Father. For the Holy Spirit.

Don't miss the way. Wait. The Holy Spirit will come in good time, and bend down to pick the weeds. And you will fall in beside him, in good time. Simply wait.

"Holy Spirit" photo by Sonia.

Seedlings Invitation: If you post something related to this Seedlings post AND LINK YOUR POST TO THIS ONE, let me know and I'll link to yours. A few exceptions have been made, since I was unclear up front that YOUR POST needs to LINK BACK here. I like to do this to keep our conversations in "realtime" as much as possible. Oh, and I admit I like getting a kiss for a hug.



Time to Wait

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Downhill Rows

And now, after last post's commercial interruption, back to Wendell Berry and the Peruvian farmers (sounds like a rock band, doesn't it...Wendell Berry & the Peruvian Farmers?).

Anyway, Berry noticed, when he looked up to those mountain fields, that the farmers had created downhill rows. Such rows allow water to run off quickly, leaving precious soil intact and preventing erosion.

Somehow this reminds me of the wisdom of Proverbs. Especially the proverbs that concern letting our anger run off quickly. Sometimes it is sweet to sit in our little red rocker, cuddle our anger, and sing ourselves to sleep. We love to kindle affection for just one more word in the argument. (Oh, I do anyway.)

So, I like to remember this...

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. Proverbs 26:20

Rocker photo by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

Standing Seedlings Invitation: If you post something related to this Seedlings post, let me know and I'll link to you.



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Monday, March 19, 2007

Sit with Me

Got a minute? Or three? Come sit with me over ice cream or tea, and see what I've been up to in the last week...

I had to write a talk on Psalm 139. Somehow, this came together with a week of sand and palms, a grove of orangequat trees, and a delayed flight out of Miami, to produce a rather personal reflection on disillusionment, vision, calling, and hope, in A Walk in the Park

Also, I missed going out to my secret place one day, so I went out at night. I put my sled under the pine and lay down in the dark. I could see the stars and the fringes of the fir tree. This is what drifted into my mind... Matriarch

And, as if I didn't have enough to write, I got the thought to interview Scot McKnight, author of The Real Mary. We had an enjoyable chat, out of which came Writing the Natural Way

How nice to sit with you now, over orangequats, a pine tree, and a few thoughts on writing. (Btw, did you order vanilla or chocolate chip? I got the green tea.)

Eatery Photo by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

NOTE TO E: Recently, you contacted me about writing advice. I responded, though your email address was incomplete (I tried putting in "" as an ending, but I don't know if that worked). Anyhow, if you did not get my response, please contact me again with your full email address. Thanks! I'm glad you thought to write.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007


These days, it's not uncommon for farmers to practice monoculture planting. Huge fields of rippling corn and shaggy soybeans carpet the landscape. This is encouraged by U.S. farm policy, which supports commodity crops and, unfortunately, can undermine farmers in other countries. (Ironic, isn't it, that feeding ourselves and our animals can cause hunger in other places?)

But monoculture has other effects too. According to small organic farmers like Wendell Berry, monoculture ultimately creates a less stable, more vulnerable agriculture. For instance, monoculture often contributes to soil erosion, pest increases, and loss of biodiversity.

The alternative is polyculture. Indigenous peoples, like certain native tribes, practiced polyculture by planting squash or beans in their corn fields. And some modern African farmers are planting trees near their fields, because they've discovered this is beneficial.

As a writer, I'm trying to learn something from this monoculture/polyculture reality. For, while it's tempting to be monoculture— to knock at the same comfortable doors both in how I write and who I write for— I believe a more stable career will take risks. So I'm aiming to be a writer polyculturist.

Door Photo by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Proper Timing

I like this watercolor by Charity. Watercolor painting has always stymied me, because I rarely time things quite right to get the effect I'm looking for.

Proper timing.

Wendell Berry notes that the Peruvian farmers prevent erosion partly through proper timing. They don't plant the fields while the fields are vulnerable to rainfall.


I need to remember this in life, when I try to plant something, try to bring growth. Recently, I was lamenting that I struggle with proper timing in my interactions, almost as much as I struggle with it in watercolor. Somehow I miss the signs that the "field" is too vulnerable to start my digging and planting. And then everything just starts to wash away, and I'm left there looking at an empty field.

In my recent grief over this struggle, I ended up (perhaps by God's own good timing) in Proverbs. Here are the planting suggestions, just as they came to me, drifting in like a mist, to meet me in the emptiness...

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing personal opinion. (18:2)

If one gives answer before hearing, it is folly and shame. (18:13)

An intelligent mind acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (18:15)

Desire without knowledge is not good, and one who moves too hurriedly misses the way. (19:2)

That's it. Just a few proverbial farming suggestions, from the Master Farmer himself.

Standing Seedlings Invitation: If you post something related to this Seedlings post, let me know and I'll link to you.





Watercolor by Charity Singleton. Used with permission.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007



As I'm just back from a time of "fallowing," I thought it would be good to move to that topic here. Besides, it is the next topic in Berry's list of what the Peruvian mountain farmers do to control erosion.

On the surface, the practice of fallowing makes little sense. For how could leaving the ground unplanted contribute to keeping soil in place? How could doing "nothing" accomplish "something"?

In truth, there's much that goes on in a fallow field. The farmer plows the soil. He may plant a cover crop to restore nutrients to the soil. Or he may let nature plant what it will. Ultimately, this improves the soil's structure, which influences how it absorbs and retains water.

I consider that to let my life go fallow at times does not mean "doing nothing." Indeed, it may entail doing something unusual, even a little wild.

Maybe, just maybe, this is what I'm doing out in my secret spot in the back yard. When the rains come and the next season for planting comes, we will see if something new and strong and restructured emerges...

Standing Seedlings Invitation: If you post something related to this Seedlings post, let me know and I'll link to you.

Pine cone photo, on the way to my Secret Spot. L.L. Barkat.



Preparing the Soul


Another Take On Silence

Five Reasons Why I Blog (or, how fallowing-in-Florida made me less serious)


Incas & Disposable Everything

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