Slowing down

Pastoral Messages | June 22, 2023

Despite a good rainstorm early this week, we are experiencing a bit of a drought here in southeastern Iowa. Its impact on the farmers is worrisome and they are grateful for any centimeter of water that falls on the shoots of corn growing. And while our livelihoods don’t depend on it, those of us with backyard gardens or flower beds are also attentive to the rain gauge.  

Over the past weeks, watering our garden has become a regular part of my nightly routine. As the kids are getting on pajamas and brushing teeth, I head outside. I turn on the spigot, pick up the hose and walk around our garden as I gently spray our vegetables and flowers with water.  

At first, it felt like a chore, just one more task that needed to be done. But now, I love these moments out in the yard, hose in hand, just me and my plants. This time of watering slows me down. I can just stand and pay attention to the growth of my beloved zinnias or the little sprouts of beans that are emerging from the seeds. I pull a few weeds and tuck in the tomato branches that have snuck outside of the cage. I watch the sparrows or just stare at the water soaking into the thirsty soil.  

Last week, I was lost in my thoughts and dropped the hose, spraying myself with water. When I came inside, my daughter looked at me, and we both laughed as she said, “Mom! You are supposed to water the plants, not yourself!” She was right. Sort of. I was supposed to be taking care of the plants, but by taking that time, I was taking care of me, too. 

In the quiet moments at the end of the day – tending to my little garden, mindful of the incremental changes, caught up in the wonder of it – the garden of my own soul had been watered. It certainly wasn’t any fancy prayer or deep ritual, just time to pay attention. I’d found some time to connect with the world and the One who made it. 

In his book Guerillas of Grace, Ted Yoder writes a prayer about summer and sabbath, with these words: 

“Let this season be for me, 
     a time of gathering together the pieces
          into which my busyness has broken me.
O God, enable me now
     to grow wise through reflection
          peaceful through the song of the cricket,
               recreated through the laughter of play.” 

This is the season to slow down and pay attention, to notice the small growth in and around us and be caught up in wonder at this world God made. Our rhythms might shift to allow time to come to worship, to have time to play, to get outside and to allow your own thirsty soul to be watered.   

-Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor

2 Comments on “Slowing down”

  • Lyle Peterson

    June 23, 2023 at 9:53 am

    Growing up on a farm l appreciated your message

  • Carolyn Dannatt

    June 22, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    Really enjoyed your comparison of rain to water our plants to watering our souls.

Leave a Comment