Thinning & Pruning
The Christian season of Lent began last week. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with the celebration of Easter. Lent is my favorite season of the Christian liturgical year. It is traditionally thought of as a season of preparation for the glory of Easter, marked by sacrifice and austerity to make the Easter celebration all the more joyous.
If you grew up in the church, you might remember giving something up during this season. At the Lutheran school I attended, most of us 5th graders sacrificially gave up chocolate with little understanding of why we were doing it. As an adult, I have come to a deep appreciation for this practice.
Last spring, our family planted our first real vegetable garden. We didn’t really know what we were doing. We started the seedlings on our kitchen counter and when the weather was right, we transplanted them into the plot we’d prepared in our backyard.
We were thrilled when, a few days later, our garden was teeming with growth. We’d watered regularly and used the expensive soil and strategically prepped the plot of land for the right amount of light. We put up a fence around the plots and sprayed with the organic, all natural rabbit repellant.
When the time came to harvest our vegetables, we began to pull up teeny orange carrots and purple beets the size of thumbnails and bright red radishes no bigger than marbles. We were sad and totally confused. A quick Google search revealed we’d missed an important step. Thinning and pruning!
This is what Lent is all about. Pruning, basically, is about removing dead and damaged stems to allow for the newest stems to get necessary light and nutrients. Thinning a garden is pulling up some of the seedlings to ensure the seedlings enough growing room. There is a distinct difference between these two actions, but both are necessary, in our gardens and in our own lives.
Pruning and thinning are easier when you have a goal in mind. The goal could be deepening your relationship with God or connecting more with your family or practicing hospitality with your neighbors. All of these are worthy pursuits, but each need time and space and practice to grow.
To prune in your life, maybe there are activities you have been doing for a long time but they are no longer life-giving. Are you doing this because it is what you’re supposed to do? An old habit? Is it bringing resentment or anxiety into your life? What do you need to prune in your life?
When it comes to thinning your life, maybe there are things you’ve said yes to out of guilt or fear or obligation. These things may not necessarily be bad, but they’re taking space and energy from the really good stuff. Time you would rather spend on what’s really important to you. What can you say no to, in order to create more spa