(Sue Karpovich, who moved away from the Clifton Park and from St. Edward’s, not too long, sent this to me the other day. I’m a bit late in posting it, but her words are good food for thought, as we enter Advent – a time of watching and waiting. Not to mention her words about being grateful at Thanksgiving. Thank you, Sue!)
Today’s readings talk so much about harvest and reaping, the results of a good planting. They really made me think about my own situation. Since our move to a new city, my spiritual life has been a bit dry and hungry. I feel like a transplanted tree that has not been given enough water. I am thirsty—thirsty for the rich, beautiful, soul-fulfilling worship that I am accustomed to at St. Edward’s. While I have managed to find a parish I can tolerate attending mass in, I have not yet found one that I cannot wait to join and become involved in. My spiritual roots are not taking hold in well in this new place and I feel like the life is slowly being drained out of me, like a plant that the farmer has forgotten about, or that seed that falls into not-so-good soil. My roots are trying to grasp for all the nutrients they can find, but it’s just not enough. I’m withering.
I miss my involvement in the women’s reflection events, my time with the parish council, lectoring, and small faith sharing group. I miss my friends, who are my lifeblood, ready to restore me with a last-minute lunch when it’s been a bad day or I’m going through a tough time. I miss the fabulous music ministry at St. Ed’s and the meaningful, challenging homilies from Fr. Pat. I’ve spent the last few weeks having a pity party for myself because of what I left behind. But it’s Thanksgiving, time to be thankful for what I have, not resentful of what I don’t. So, what DO I have?
I have a beautiful family. I have a loving husband. I live in a country where people will give their lives so I can speak and worship freely. I have a roof over my head and food on my table. And I have winter.
In winter, most plants lose their color, their leaves, and it often looks like they are dead. Maybe it’s time for this plant to curl up under a nice bed of leaves and gain whatever strength it can to get through the winter and ready for spring. Perhaps it’s time to go easy on myself and stop stressing out and obsessing about what this move has done to my faith life. All that stress is most likely hindering my growth and preventing my roots from getting what they need in this new location. I have been so focused on continuing to be the fruitful, flowering, lively tree I have been for the past several years, that I haven’t taken into account how shocking it is for a plant to be transplanted to a new spot. I think it’s time to start treating myself like that tender plant. I need extra food, water, and sunshine. And a rest. A hibernation. A time to regroup.
I went to a retreat a few weeks ago (Yes, at St. Edward’s!) and the theme was the harvest of God’s love. I began to realize there that I’m trying to reap a harvest from seeds that have yet to be sown. I am trying to leave a place I was for 20-plus years and jump into a new place at that same level of involvement and nourishment. I am trying to harvest before I actually plant. It doesn’t work that way.
Spring will come one day down the road and I hope by then I will be like a more healthy transplanted tree. Or maybe a new plant altogether. So for now, I guess I’ll spend the winter trying to find fertile soil and some fertilizer. I’ll visit my friends and they’ll visit me. I’ve invited some new neighbors over for a cookie swap to try to meet new friends. I’ll try a few more parishes to see if there’s one that really feeds me. But I do know that, like the gardener, I must be patient and not try to rush the bloom.