A couple of weeks ago, I started on a job that was long overdue. It’s a job that had become long overdue because I really don’t enjoy doing it and the longer it was left, the bigger the job became. And the bigger the job became, the greater the motivation needed to actually start on it.
It was weeding. But because it had been left for such a long time, it wasn’t so much ‘weeding’ as ‘ground-clearance’. For those with the garden jargon, it seemed more like a job for a rotovator than for a hand-fork.
In the foreground of this photo, you can see a lovely veg bed filled with tomatoes and red cabbage. Believe it or not, there’s another veg bed behind it. It’s also filled. Sadly, it’s filled with weeds (and two blueberry bushes). You can clearly see that the weeding hadn’t been tackled for quite some time. So it’s not surprising that the weeding itself took quite some time…
But I have to say, completing the job was highly satisfying! This second photo is taken from roughly the same spot. It shows the bed having been cleared. The blueberry bushes obviously stayed (and had done surprisingly well) but the rest was genuinely just weeds. The weeds were preventing the blueberries from flourishing as well as they could have, and preventing anything else from being planted.
So that’s what was done next. Planting of sweetcorn, nasturtiums, sprouting brocolli and leeks. Bit of a hodge-podge, but it’ll hopefully work. And bear a good harvest.
And of course, once it’s all planted, it needs watering. We’ve been having hot weather of late, which means that watering is particularly important, especially given how new everything is to the bed – stuff needs time to be settled in. Without watering, the stuff that’s been planted won’t grow. It’ll just look pretty for a couple of weeks and then shrivel up.
And both weeding and watering get me thinking about this whole LiveLife 1-2-3 thing. With our young people that we’re mentoring, there are various things that need to be done, and the picture of weeding and watering can help. We can help them gradually clear out some of the stuff that’s stopping them growing. We can help them prepare for growth and support them in ‘clearing the ground’. Of course, when we’re dealing with a person not a veg bed, we need to work with a good deal more care and love. We need to be sensitive and wary not to rush things. To carry on the analogy, we also need to take care of the things that are already growing, to ensure they’re not damaged by our efforts to clear the ground.
We also need to ‘water’. We need not just to help clear and plant, but we need also to nurture. To provide what is needed to help our young people grow new skills and passions and habits. We need to be aware of the conditions that they’re in and help to ensure growth even as other things may be working to prevent it.
But I’ve been thinking lately about one more thing in our role. And it’s something else I’ve learnt from the garden. We can spend time just enjoying watching the growth. Growth is, by its very nature, and slow and gradual thing. I was amazed a couple of days ago when I had a look at how far the red cabbages are progressing. Sometimes I need to stop working feverishly in the garden and just enjoy seeing what’s flourishing there. The same is true with our relationship with our mentees. Our priority might be to see them growing in faith, but sometimes it’ll be enough just to sit with them and enjoy watching the growth that’s been happening before our eyes. To put aside the plans for the future – the weeding and watering – and to focus simply on the miracle of God at work in a person He loves.