the gardener

Dec 1, 2023

.

This time last month I was on my way to Winton, half an hour from Invercargill, for three days of Parish Mission in the Western Southland parish.

There were many highlights: conversations with older parishioners in their homes, reflection sessions, Masses, gatherings in cafes and pubs, and time with school staff and students.

In one question & answer session with 9-11 year olds one of the bright young students asked me a very original question: if you were teaching in our school, what you would want us to learn?

The question surprised me and the look in the young boy’s eyes let me know that he deserved more than a religious-cliche-response. I took a moment to think, pray, and think again and was surprised at the answer that came to me.

My response: If I was teaching at a primary school I would want every student to learn the joy of growing vegetables.

Anyone who grows vegetables knows how to create a garden environment of rich soil and sun, to plant seeds and then to water and wait. A vegetable gardener then experiences the delight of seeing green sprout from the soil to become seedlings then grow into lettuces, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and peppers. And even if I’ve named one or two of the vegetables you don’t like eating you can’t deny that there are few things as satisfying as eating the veges that you have grown yourself.

A gardener knows about life, seeds sun and soil, patience and persistence, nature and nurture, maturation and harvest – and the the satisfaction of the good home-grown meal with friends.

This email begins the daily Food For Faith Advent reflections. I’m excited about this four-week opportunity to go deeper, seeking personal maturation, nurturing and patiently persisting, knowing that like the gardener, even when I am forgetful unfocussed and distracted, Jesus is working to ensure that the seeds of new life in me are brought to harvest.

A couple of notes as we begin:

  • Thank you to those who share news of this FFF website with others. This mission grows by word of mouth. Invite your friends and family to sign-up to this four-week pre-Christmas mission at www.foodforfaith.org.nz
  • Let’s start up the FFF cafe gatherings again – just send me a date, place and time when you will be waiting at a cafe ready to meet any FFF friend who turns up to chat together about life and faith. Email me (john@fff.org.nz) with this info and I will advertise these gatherings on each day’s Advent post.
  • The response to my published collection of reflections, Food For Faith – the book, has been encouraging. Click the image below to order. Save yourself the postage by picking up your copy at The Catholic Shop (at St. Marys) in Christchurch, St Augustine’s in the Christ the King church foyer Christchurch, St Joseph’s Gift Centre Takapuna, or ask at any bookstore and they can get you a copy. If in doubt send me an email john@fff.org.nz.

Click on the image to order
Food For Faith – the book
Eighty-five reflections for anyone who is seeking
greater depth of life and maturity of faith.

8 Comments

  1. Yes to great life lessons learnt through gardening – preparation, patience, wonder, reward and the knowledge that I’m never completely in control. There is ‘something/someone else’ at work in all my ‘gardening’ efforts.

    Reply
  2. Thank you for encouraging us to think deeper when answering children’s questions. I look forward to journeying closer to Jesus this Christmas through your daily reflections during advent.

    Reply
  3. Thanks Fr John. Your response to the boy’s question was truly inspired, and I found this first Advent reflection truly inspiring.

    To me, a garden is a sacred place to be, especially in the early morning and at dusk, and gardening is like having the privilege of sharing in God’s work in some small way. And I’m both humbled and encouraged by (as Kate says above) the knowledge that I’m not the one in control.

    I’m looking forward to continuing this Advent journey with your daily reflections and the comments of your readers. Many thanks.

    Reply
  4. I think gardening converts my imagination ( usually look at me focus) to Creativity( look at God focus ….) as one does have to ask How does this happen?

    Reply
  5. What a lovely way of expressing our faith and something we can relate to easily. Thank for todays lesson. Live the idea of fff meeting in cafes. I will look out for one in timaru before Christmas.

    Reply
  6. Great start to the Advent reflections and response to the young student’s question. Thank you for the work you do in keeping a flawed faith seeker heading in the right direction. Best wishes from the other side of rhe ditch.

    Reply
  7. Gardening also teaches us that, as in life, some things will turn out well and others not go our way and we have to accept God’s will.

    Reply
  8. The gardening analogy reminded me of what my Irish Grandmother would say when she planted anything in the garden. Time & space for gardening was short for her. However she would plant with great care & hope & as she completed her task she would ssy ‘I’ve done my bit- Almighty God will do the rest…’ Sometimes life is like that. You can only do so much & leave the rest to God.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts

who or what ?

who or what ?

We know Peter’s response. But more importantly, how do you respond today?

signs please God

signs please God

It was the opening of today’s gospel that prompted me to seek signs: This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign.

Our Father

Our Father

a father taught his child to pray this prayer especially in the middle of the night when the child woke and felt sad or anxious.

just do it

just do it

I received a letter from the bishop of Christchurch (Denis Hanrahan) which began: Dear John, I am happy to inform you

tempted ?

tempted ?

Temptation is usually understood as an impulse to choose wrong over right, bad over evil, unhealthy over healthy