Tending the plant

Tending the plant

Our local supermarket is doing another one of those promotions. You know the one, where somehow your own children pester you so they can collect the last remaining gimmicky plastic thing. Except this time the supermarket have played their hand well, and the gimmicky thing my kids want to collect is little pots, with seeds, and soil.

We planted some this weekend, and we are watching them grow. So far the radish and the rocket are far outstripping the other plants. The kids are so excited to see the shoots unfurl from the soil and then go green as each day progresses.

But these plants don’t grow without attention.

We have to remember to place them in a sunny spot, and water them regularly. When they get too big for the tiny pot they are in, we will need to repot them. We cannot just leave them be or they will dry out and die.

It is a quiet rite of spring to tend to our garden. I find it interesting that the word tend is related to the word attention, they both have the same latin origin.

So as a final reflection for this spring, I wonder are you just letting life carry you along? Or are there some shifts you need to make in your everyday? Are you in need of something extra, maybe peace or stability? What would help you to grow?

Where in your life do you need to pay attention?

I leave you with Jesus’ words, this beautiful picture of a vine that has been well tended.

Peace be with you today,


I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:5-8 (NIV)

Watering Well

Watering Well

Living as I do in Perth, Australia, I am very aware of the value of water. We have water restrictions all year round, with set days and times to water our gardens.

The soil here is sand and it absorbs water in a moment, so we enrich our soil and add wetting agents in order to allow the plants to get the water they need.

For water is crucial in a garden. Even succulents need water to survive. But the key is to water in the right way for the plant. Rosemary likes dry soil, and thrives in our Perth climate. Other plants need plenty or water and regular soakings and the aforementioned succulents need to be flooded with water after a really dry phase.

We need to alter the watering to suit the plant and the season they are in. We water more in the dry of summer and less during the rains of winter. And we can damage plants with too much water, too much attention at the wrong time, just as easily as we can damage them with neglect.

As one of the quiet rites of spring, I am quietly contemplating my life. I am thinking about where I need to water well so the roots can go deep, and where I need to stop watering lest I damage the plant. I am thinking about what areas need more attention and what needs less.

Are you in a dry season? Are you feeling parched and dry, waiting for the water to come?

Or are you feeling overwhelmed? There is too much coming your way and you feel you are drowning.

Maybe take some time today and think about what areas of your life need more attention, and what needs a little less. Think about where you need to pour your precious energy, your water, as it were. For like us in Perth. You may only have a limited amount and need to spend it wisely.

For your reflection today I leave you with this beautiful passage from Isaiah. Peace be with you,


As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55: 10-11 (NIV)

Sowing the Seed

Sowing the Seed

My girls and I venture out into the garden with a packet of seeds in hand. As I pour them out into waiting palms, they exclaim about how tiny these seeds are. I am once again struck by the wonder of nature. I reminded of the amazing potential in these tiny seeds. That given the right conditions they can put down roots, sprout and grow, lengthen and bud, and finally bloom.

All seeds are small, most fit in your hand easily, and yet in that small dark pod there is amazing potential. And yes, every seed does not end up as a giant tree, but all seeds have the potential to grow. From one seed you may get the delicate green leaves of mustard cress. From another the swaying stalks and beautiful blossoms of a tulip. And yes, overtime a dark black pip yields the amazing bountiful harvest of an olive tree.

But none of these seeds can achieve anything until they are sown. Whilst in my girls’ hands, although small and filled with potential, these seeds have no ability to grow.

Do you have seeds, filled with potential that you are holding in your hand right now? Have you done all the prep work of breaking the ground and turning the soil, and yet you are still clasping these seeds tightly in your hand unwilling to let them go?

Until you release them, out into the environment where they can thrive and flourish then they are just little brown specks in the palm of your hand.

What seeds are you holding in your hand right now?

My girls slowly make little indents in the prepared soil, and gently drop each seed in. We know that some will thrive and some will fail, and yet still we faithfully sow. For we know that none of these seeds will thrive in their hands. Each seed can only become what they have the potential to be, when they are sown.

Robert Louis Stevenson says

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

What seeds are you planting today?

I leave you with these words from Jesus for your reflection today.

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

John 12: 24-25 (MSG)

Peace be with you,


Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground

The advent of September heralds Spring in Australia. The days are warming with evenings crisp and cool, not yet the balmy relief we need in Summer. 

The native flowers are blooming, I have kangaroo paws unfurling outside my study window, growing taller each day. And the blossom of fruit trees is a cloud of pink, and white throughout the suburbs.

Spring is a gentle season, a season of transition, a season of new beginnings. As we watch the bulbs poke their green spikes through the soil we are reminded it is a season of small, slow, emergences from dark places.

How has your winter been? Has it been a much-needed time of rest? Has it been a season of darkness and pain? Has it been an unending everyday dreariness?

The arrival of spring reminds us that those dark places of winter, though hard, were not for nothing. In the quiet slow working under the ground there was much needed growth.

Winter is a season of rest. A season when the ground lies still and undisturbed for a time. The season of leaving the ground ‘fallow’.

The dictionary describes fallow as:

  • (of land) left unseeded after being ploughed to regain fertility for a crop
  • (of an idea) undeveloped, but potentially useful

The word comes from Old English and means ‘to break up land for sowing’.

There is a clear picture here that soil needs to be left for a time of rest before it can be replanted, and after that time of rest, that the soil needs to be prepared for planting.

Have you had a time where you have had to rest, and leave things fallow in your life?

The beginning of Spring is a time of preparation. It is a time of breaking new ground. A time when we get out in the sunshine and do the hard work of preparing the soil.

It is not the joy of planting, yet! Rather it is removing the weeds, and breaking up the hardened ground. It is a toil that seems to give no real yield. And yet it is a very necessary step in this season. For if the soil isn’t healthy, with all that is required for growth, then how can we expect the plants to thrive?

What is your idea that you have lying fallow and would like to bring to life? Before you can develop it, you need to create the best environment for it to grow.

In the garden breaking ground may involve turning the soil, for your dream it may be turning it over with some trusted friends.

In the garden preparing the soil involves eliminating weeds, for your dream it may mean eliminating distractions to create space.

In the garden you may need to add fertiliser or nutrients, for your dream, you may need to take a workshop, or set yourself a creative challenge.

It is a quiet rite of spring to prepare the soil. It is a hard often unseen work. But maybe for you the fallow season has ended and it is time to break ground.

For reflection I leave you with this well know passage from Ecclesiastes. Peace be with you as you as quietly contemplate what steps you need to take in this new season.


There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
   a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
   a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
  a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
   a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
   a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
   a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiates 3:1-8

Some thoughts after releasing a book

Some thoughts after releasing a book

It is almost two months since my new book Beauty in the Ashes: Learning to Lament was released. I have tried to start this blog post a number of times since then, but the emotions have been so large, and the words have been so elusive that it would not settle into anything cohesive.

Like Mary I have had to treasure up all these things and ponder them in my heart, until I was able to put words to them. So here is a random collection of thoughts after my book launch.

On release

Release is an interesting word, and so appropriate for this journey of taking words, giving them form, and letting them go into the world. Up until launch date I had control. I chose the words. I placed them carefully. I worked through the edits and design process, with others yes, but ultimately the final decision was mine.

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Beauty in the Ashes

Beauty in the Ashes

I have spent this weekend with an amazing group of women on a writing retreat. We all arrived at the tiny monastery town with our journals and our laptops, our fears and our expectations. We spent the weekend writing, chatting, and walking around the beautiful peace-filled grounds of New Norcia. And then on the last night we sat around in a circle and shared our writing. A beautiful gathering of women with stories in their hands, offering their fragile hearts and words to one another.

It was beautiful and it was profound.

Continue reading “Beauty in the Ashes”