Journey with us...

Journey with us...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

What do Vocation, Formation, Strawberries have in common?

Growing up, we always played games that required lots of brain power.  There was never a dull moment in the household when learning was not in the forefront.  One of the games we played at my grandparent's house was Tribond.  Today I want to expand on my own "tribond" experience.

Well, its finally planting season!  AND... this year I have permission to try my hand at strawberries!  I was so excited when another sister brought home plants with flowers and runners and even a few budding berries!  We will have a bumper crop ASAP I thought!

Then I began my research.  Plant them 12" apart... don't bend the roots, give them lots of nutrients, prep the soil before you start. don't let strawberries touch the dirt.... and on and on!

So many rules and so much to do even before you can put them in the ground!  But I tilled the soil, added compost, measured my plot, and finally.... planting time!  But then came the hard part.  It says, "cut off all flowers and runners for the first growing season to allow the plant to put its energy into the roots".  WHAT!!!

While it made sense it was a very hard thing to convince myself to do.  I would have to wait even longer and even remove perfectly good fruit and flowers and potential future plants!
Goodbye for now
little flowers!

So I sat with this for, well longer than I probably should have, before I could understand it in a spiritual context and then finally make the plunge and do the cutting.  What was my Tribond discovery? 

First of all it deals with Vocation:  When one is in discernment it is a lot of hard work which often seems to get you nowhere.  Researching communities, speaking with spiritual guides, reading books, and most of all LOTS of prayer.  This was my prep stage... read up on how to care for strawberries, till the soil, add lots of compost.  It is hard work, but the skills and tools acquired during discernment are ones that you will use for the rest of your life, tools that you can fall back on for small decisions in the future and those big decisions that come up as well.  Time to go back to the books, back to the experts, and back to your knees.

But here is my "big" insight that finally gave me the courage to take that step of cutting off those beautiful, healthy flowers and runners: Formation.  When one enters the monastery, she is ready to put all her gifts out there to be used, ready to assist everywhere possible and ready to let her "flowers" bloom in this wonderful garden.  Often it can be the case that instead she finds these very flowers being removed, prevented, shadowed.  Why?  It is because we must first learn to root ourselves in the spirit of the community and learn the ways of this new "soil" before the flowers can be produced without doing damage to our long-term formation.  It is a very hard lesson to learn and one that hurts a great deal, but as our strawberry plants know.... a good set of roots means even more fruit in the future and a healthier, longer-lasting plant.
Hang in there little plants!  You can produce fruit next season!

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