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the planter's prayer

One of my planters this morning
This morning was planting day on my balcony; I placed three small, toddler flowering plants in each of my terra cotta containers. One of the pots had some gnarly, root-laden dirt in it so before I started planting, I lugged it down 3 flights of stairs and emptied it in the backyard. I dug through the other 2 pots to loosen the dirt and remove any big roots. Dean had bought me a brand new, extra large bag of Miracle Gro potting soil, so I dragged the bag which was nearly half my body size over to the pots and began to transfer dirt from bag to pot. Of course, some of it ended up on strewn on the balcony, smudged on my pants, and wedged underneath my fingernails (despite wearing gloves). While I was in the process of digging in the dirt, it started to rain. It wasn't too bad, just a few sprinkles, so I carried on, picking up the pace.

I made three holes in each pot, carefully lifted the toddler plants out of their plastic containers, sprinkled some fertilizer in the bottom of each hole, placed the plant in its new home, and packed dirt around it till it was snugly in place. The sun came out as I was finishing, so I watered the pots to make sure everything was fully hydrated. I took my dirty self inside and washed the blackness off my hands and shoes. Then the rain started to come down. Hard. Big drops like small H2O cookies. I stood at the back window, watching the fragile plants, newly transplanted, their roots still in shock from the pulling and prodding, and I hoped they were okay.

I hoped they would not be damaged by the sudden spring rain storm. I hoped their leaves were not too small and fragile to withstand the big, heavy drops of rain. I hoped there would be no strong winds and no unexpected hail. Most of all, I hoped that they would put down solid, deep roots, gather rich nutrients from the moist soil, and flourish in the coming days and weeks. I hoped that they would grow big and strong and beautiful and bring much joy and life and colour to the world.

As a church planter, I readily recognise that the hopes and prayers I breathed over my tiny plants this morning are the same hopes and dreams I have for those in my local faith community, those who look to me for help, for friendship, for stability, and for nourishment. I cannot fully protect them from the harsh world. I cannot give them all the nourishment they need or desire. I cannot guarantee a safe and steady journey through life. But I can speak to them tenderly. I can offer food and water for their souls and bodies. I can point them to the sun for warmth and draw them into the shade when things get too hot. I can place them in the richest soil I have access too. But I have to let them go in order to let them grow. I have to give them space and time to put down deep roots. I have to trust the Creator that rain and sun and storm and shade will be given in appropriate measure. I have to trust that the Creator has placed growth and transformation in the very fibre of every being. I can plant and water, but I cannot make anything grow. That I must trust to the Creator.

"Any growth comes from God, so the ones who water and plant have nothing to brag about. God, who causes the growth, is the only One who matters. The one who plants is no greater than the one who waters; both will be rewarded based on their work. We are gardeners and field workers laboring with God. You are the vineyard, the garden, the house where God dwells." (1 Corinthians 3, The Voice).

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