The metaphor of gardening has often been used to describe the spiritual experience of women. Unlike a masculine model of spirituality, where the experience is often a linear journey striving to pierce levels of spiritual attainment and moving towards an ultimate end, women’s spiritual experience is often described as circular and organic. The female experience of the spiritual life is a garden, growing, flourishing, bearing fruit, dying back and needing to be planted again and again.
I remember so many times beating myself up for not achieving self-imposed benchmarks of my personal growth. I should have been more joyful, more generous, more compassionate, less irritable, less selfish, less anxious, et cetera, et cetera. That’s the linear approach. That’s the journey model.
Using the gardening model, now I see spiritual experience in seasons of time where there is growth, followed by barrenness. I till my spiritual garden, water it, weed it. It bears fruit. Often the cold winds of life sweep through and I dry up. But I don’t worry about it. Spring always comes.
And the fruit will be as sweet and full of juice as ever.
Text and image: Lori G. © 2007