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Nature that Nurtures; Dwelling in the Goodness of the Land

2016 09p1When I am weary or distressed, it is the green goodness of the land that can restore my soul.
Dwelling in the land; trekking determinedly or sauntering slowly, lingering in and among natures beauty; tending the earth, caring for plants and sowing seeds sloughs away the shadows in my soul. The deep parts of me are soothed, calmed, nurtured; lulled into a leafy peace.

How is it then that I often evade this healing, delaying my restoration as I convince myself that I am too busy to take time to stop, to meander; to dwell in the goodness of the land?

Soil is Good for the Soul

Here are 5 reasons that help me recall why dwelling in the land is good: why soil is so good for the soul.
They are based on my dwellings on verses from Psalm 37.

1. Trust in the Lord

2016 09p2

We are asked to trust in God’s provision for us as we live our lives for good in both the spring and summer of our lives as well as those empty winter times. It is a step of faith to trust that God will provide through the dark days, just as spring follows winter. The secret of surviving the winter is to be prepared in the summer, sowing and cultivating the land, gathering a harvest and storing for survival through barren winter days. So too can we provide for our spirit, enjoying and relishing the good times when they come yet at the same time, investing in sowing spiritual seeds: speaking and listening to the Lord, reading His Word, connecting with community, dwelling in the land, so that these practices will keep us in good stead through the darker days of the soul.

2. Dwell in the land

We are asked to truly live in the land that we have been given, giving what we can, working with what we have…and not hankering at wanting always to be somewhere else. We are placed where we are for a reason…and if it is right for us to move on, then God will show us where and when in his timing. I can gain comfort by looking at the Bible to know this truth, where the Lord calls so many to dwell or move on, in his timing. Think of Moses, David, Elijah, Joseph, Paul….I need to keep hearing this, as I so often feel like a grumbling Israelite, never content with where God has placed me! We are told that dwelling in the land will provide us with ” safe pasture” and that we are to enjoy our time here. When I think of the word pasture, it is one that I associate with sheep or cows, contentedly chewing the cud in rich green fields. I had never before thought of my life as ” safe pasture” but it is, and I should be immensely grateful.

3. Take Delight in the Lord

It is so easy to be self-absorbed in our society; a world that encourages us to take delight in material things and to gratify our own desires. Taking delight in the Lord; counting our blessings, learning to be grateful for all that we have helps us to look away from ourselves and realize the greatness of our God and draw us into worship. This, we are told, will enable God to give us the desires of our heart. Often we think we know what we truly desire, but so often when we actually receive it, we are disappointed. A job that we thought we wanted turns out to be not the position we expected; a long-awaited gadget does not function as we hoped, a relationship we relied on lets us down. The marketing industry thrives on persuading us that we can be delighted by what we purchase; delighted by the friends we mix with, the style we exude. The Bible has a different slant, saying that the desires of my heart will be satisfied by taking delight in the Lord…

4. Commit your Way to the Lord

When farmers till the land, they have to look forward, commit the blade to the furrow and plough on, literally! Keeping looking back will mean that the furrow won’t be straight. So too, with us…commitment means carrying on, moving forward in our lives, even when it is slow or difficult terrain. Often life can feel muddy or as if we are trying to dig through clay but we are called to be committed to God throughout; to trust that He will lead us through and on.

5. Be Still before the Lord

Slowness can be scary in our fast-paced twenty-four-hour on-the-go world. Stopping means that we have to think of the things that we often push away from our mind. Stopping; being still, particularly when outside in the midst of creation, can be incredibly nurturing and healing. For me, the whispers of a gentle breeze through the leaves of tall trees in a wooded space, vast fields and hills or the shoreline beside the sea, feed my soul; encouraging me to be still amidst the enormity of creation and remember my maker. It helps me to recall my smallness in the universe and put things into perspective for a while. Waiting can be good me, however frustrating it may feel!

Textile Translations

2016 09p3This months textile piece, based on these musings, is called “Dwell in the Land”.

I began working on this whilst I was staying at Glenthorne, the beautiful Quaker retreat house in the Lake District.

The patched green and brown dappled backgrounds represent the fields and terrain of the earth; the light coloured lines, the contours of the land. The radiating multi-coloured contours represent us, Gods people dwelling in the land. The multi-coloured contours radiate outwards as our living in the land reaches out affecting others as we make our mark in the land where we live – whether that be for good or whether that be detrimental to the land is our individual choice. The five black lines are the difficulties and hardships of the seasons that inevitably encroach on our living. The sun and its rays represent the Creator and the blessings that abound for us his children through the world that He created for us to nurture, tend and enjoy. The trees show the fruitfulness of the land; the flowers again are a symbol of its beauty. The beads are seeds of possibility; the promise of new growth.

In the land…
Quiet greenness
Starts to seep
Through me
Whispering the name of God,
Watering my thirsty soul,
Drenching my spirit in worship.
And later, an extravagant rainbow
Arches the valley
From sheer rocks,
Showering His revolutionary blessings:
Piercing the kernel
Of my ungratefulness;
Precipitating
My blessing others

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