Kathleen Giffin


Third Sunday in Lent – February 28, 2016
Exodus 3.1-8, 13-15 | Psalm 103 | 1 Corinthians 10.1-6, 10-12 | Luke 13.1-9
February 22, 2016

The rhubarb patch in my garden began as a transplant from the one at my previous house; I dug up a piece when I moved and got it started in a part of the yard where I thought it would do well.

Rhubarb can be slow to get established, so I was patient the first couple of years, knowing it needed time to spread and strengthen. But then I began to notice it simply wasn't doing what I had expected.

Let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. -

'Let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.'

Luke 13.8

Each spring would come and only a few slender stalks would push out of the ground; summer would end with little growth and less hope for the following year. I considered ripping it out of the ground and buying a piece of nursery stock to replace it, but I decided to give it one more year.

I had heard that rhubarb especially likes fish fertilizer, so I pulled an old fish out of my freezer, dug a hole under the rhubarb plant and buried the fish. Over the course of the next couple of years my rhubarb plant established itself and thrived, growing into a large patch that provided enough for us with extra to give away.

I am reminded of my rhubarb when I read this Sunday's Gospel, the parable of the fig tree. The owner is ready to remove the tree for it has not borne any fruit, but the gardener is the advocate, ready to keep working with it to create the conditions it needed to be productive.

Sometimes I feel like that fig tree. Sometimes I marvel at the patience God has for me, watching as another year rolls by and I'm still missing the mark, still not fully given into his hands for him to accomplish whatever he wills in me and through me.

I find this story tremendously hopeful. God doesn't write us off; it is not too late for change and growth. He can always work with us exactly where we are if we submit to his will this day.

Getting manure dug around the roots, so to speak, may not be a pleasant experience, but it may be exactly what we need. The difficulties in life, the circumstances that challenge us today, may be our best opportunity of the moment to try again to get it right.

Jesus is the gardener of our souls, he tends and prunes and provides what is needed for growth. This Lent is another chance to try to get it right; to allow ourselves to be taught, to surrender to God, to seek for God's will to be our own.

It is time to say no to ourselves that we might say yes to God. It is time to welcome all those ways that God is digging around in our lives, expectant that he can, this time, change our hearts and make us the means of bringing his love to his people.

(Kathleen Giffin kgif@telus.net)