“I dig barehanded,” she said it sheepishly. “I love the feel of the dirt.”
My girlfriend, whose home is almost annoyingly meticulous any day of the week, knew her words would surprise me. They did, and yet I remember the year she kept worms to fertilize the summer’s crops. Seems she’d do about anything to cultivate her wonderful harvest of vegetables, flowers and herbs. And it never seems like work to her.
Cultivation is important, but that’s the sum total of what I know about the practice. I want to learn more after reading Psalm 131 in The Message:
"I’ve kept my feet on the ground,
I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in its mother’s arms,
my soul is a baby content."
Google directed me to a simple explanation of this dirt digging:
“Cultivating breaks up the crusty soil surface allowing for a much easier penetration of air, nutrients and water deep into the soil where plant roots can gain access to them. Cultivating improves moisture penetration and thus helps with water retention.”
I pause to consider what needs to be broken up – cultivated – for me to have a quiet heart…and what effort might be required on my part. Perhaps all I really need to do is come to Jesus, and admit my need. I guess it boils down to time and humility.
I continue reading to find what the cultivation might harvest:
“Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope.
Hope now; hope always!"
The harvest comes AFTER the cultivation. I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that in those waiting seasons, after the sometimes painful and challenging dirt digging, hope happens if my heart has been quieted.
I ask the Lord to refresh my memories of some of the hardest challenges in my life and realize, gratefully, hope was always present.
In times of extended stillness with Him, He taught me what I’d needed to know to maintain hope when pain and challenge came. It was always about His character: loving, faithful, forgiving, near, good…
My girlfriend works hard to cultivate the soil for her summer harvest. She doesn’t neglect the hard work of cultivation. I pray for grace to care for my heart with that same dedication. Am I willing to put in the effort? Are you?
Pull up a chair and sit still
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Is your soul thirsty? Your heart struggling? Do you need to find some stillness so you can cultivate a quiet heart? It’s a gift to yourself and to all those you are attempting to love well. I join you in this worthy effort.