My latest book, Earthed in God: Four movements of spiritual growth, has just been published. It was a long time in the writing. The seed was planted some 15 years ago when I first took on an allotment. I knew very little about gardening and feared I lacked the ‘green fingers’ that could make a wilderness of bramble and bindweed a fruitful garden of vegetables and flowers. What I discovered through different seasons, setbacks and surprises was that seeds have within them an irrepressible desire to become:
The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow; he does not know how. The earth produces of itself: first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. [Mark 4. 26-28]
The one who scatters seed has work to do; but growth is also a wonder, a ‘who knows how?’ I grew up believing I had to make myself. If I was to become anything then it was down to my grit and ability. Growth was about achievement: becoming through effort an acceptable human being. And who decided what made a person acceptable? Other people, through their applause or their frowns. I worked hard to fit in to what I picked up other people wanted or needed me to be. I had no idea who I really was, and in any case, feared this reality.
The growth of a plant takes a very different shape. Earth, sun, rain, insect pollinators all play their part. But growth also emerges from within – from the very DNA held within the small brown speck of the seed. Growth is a becoming, and what takes place is the mysterious unfolding of who we are, in all our wonder. We grow by cooperation with God, in whom our lives are earthed. God’s Spirit continually seeks to wake our unique human spirit into being. The process is life-long and there are often setbacks on the way. But God is the most persistent and creative of gardeners, working from wherever we begin from and working with whatever happens along the way.
I hope you might be moved to read my book, to trust who you are and become open, with God, to what you might become.