Autumn gardens are not pretty. They are all mold and cold, dark and decay, mess and muck. But if autumn death is not plied into the ground, no spring is nourished. Spent and anemic, the soil will respond to the force of spring with random, unintentional growth of opportunistic, oppressive weeds. Spring will draw great jungles from them, jungles we did not want when we plotted the plot.
But autumn is hopeful preparation. Why else would any gardener go out in almost freezing temperatures to fork another layer of compost into the dark ground under gray skies?
A week or so ago, I spent the majority of my day winging walnuts into the forest behind our house, then mulching and fertilizing our lawn. The light was the seepy white gold of October, the air refreshingly not too hot. Our yard was peppered liberally with puce orbs fallen from the scraggly-leaved trees arching overhead. These same trees had been the “wow” that convinced us to make an offer on this house just three months before. Now I understood why the grass underneath was so pocked. Every autumn it is pummeled by thousands of black walnuts! And now it became my task to undo the happy work of autumnal ripeness.
As I practiced my pitch (something I hadn’t done for, oh, 20 years or so), I prayed. Not that I wouldn’t hit a squirrel, or a neighbor child playing in the woods (thankfully they were all at school), but the listening kind of praying where I am delighting in the moment and aware of Jesus being there. He drew my attention to the fact that I was doing prep work.
I thought of all the ways I engage in prep work: commercial kitchens, my own kitchen, my garden, for the school year, for travels, for blogging, readying for the day, the season, the year. I felt in my spirit that I was in a season of prep work. This put a context on my life that had previously been missing and I found it encouraging. For that means I am being prepared for a future, for a purpose, that Jesus has a place and goal for me. There are seeds he plans on planting! It has been a year of great change, of digging up roots, and in the transition it has felt scary at times. But He has placed me now in this new “plot” of life where we are working in the soil of my soul.
This context has cast new light on my life. Typically I think of autumn as a time to wrap things up, to finish and to put away. It is that, and in some ways I am finishing with previous pursuits in order to prepare for new pursuits. Apparently, what I choose to spend my time on this autumn will have ramifications many seasons ahead. If there was no decay and dying of these things I am to leave in the past, then I will not have the rich soil I need to grow come spring. The work now is to dig in the decay to replenish the plot of my soul.
He has a vision for the plot of my soul, of fruit and flower born to brighten and sustain. To create this life in me he is faithfully working in the soil of my life. He is deeply digging into my foundational understandings of who He is and who I am. Some of those ideas need to die and become food for the future.
Take a moment and consider what season you may be in. Maybe you are in full flower and can trace the edge of the shovel in seasons past and now you can say thank you for that. Maybe you feel like a piece of abandoned land with no purpose and you need Him to lay hold of you as His own. Maybe you have just been planted with new seeds of ideas and plans and now you need careful watering. Maybe you, like me, are in a season of preparation, of deep soul work. In every season of your soul, let Him do his work. Tend this life He’s given you with attention and care.