(A SEASON OF NEW GROWTH #1)
Monday, May 24th
When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. (Leviticus 25:2-4, NRSV)
Could our first step toward our Season of New Growth actually be a decision to lie fallow?
No, this will not be the first and only post in this series! But today’s reflection reminds us of the importance of choosing to keep restful, quiet, unhurried time in our days.
Let’s consider the benefits of fallowing ground for gardening. Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer, writes:
Fallow ground, or fallow soil, is simply ground or soil which has been left unplanted for a period of time. In other words, fallow land is land left to rest and regenerate.
Early in the history of fallowing, farmers usually did a two-field rotation, meaning they would divide their field into two halves. One half would be planted with crops, the other would lie fallow. The following year, farmers would plant crops in the fallow land, while letting the other half rest or fallow. As agriculture boomed, crop fields grew in size and new equipment, tools and chemicals became available to farmers, so many crop producers abandoned the practice of soil fallowing… a field left unplanted does not turn a profit.
Allowing the soil to have a specific rest period gives it time to replenish nutrients which can be leached from certain plants or regular irrigation. It also saves money on fertilizers and irrigation. In addition, fallowing the soil can cause potassium and phosphorus from deep below to rise toward the soil surface where it can be used by crops later. Other benefits of fallowing soil are that it raises levels of carbon, nitrogen and organic matter, improves moisture holding capacity, and increases beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Studies have shown that a field that has been allowed to lie fallow for just a year produces a higher crop yield when it is planted.1
Like the farmer hoping for a profit, I am one who tends to think of an “abundant life” as a busy or productive life. I can feel irritable and frustrated on days when very little has been accomplished. I may not realize that my body needed to rest, or my mind needed to regroup, or my soul needed to reflect. Perhaps these fallow days provided some much-needed space for rest and replenishment. In addition, as noted in the farming fields, these unproductive days may have helped to rebuild resources for my future productivity and better “yield.”
We will never live abundantly if we spread ourselves too thinly.
What are some ways we can include more fallowing time in our lives?
~ Do we say “no” to something good in order to do something better?
~ Do we say “not right now” to something that can wait until a future time?
~ Do we fully honor a day of sabbath rest each week?
~ Do we make time in our day to turn off and from the things that distract?
~ Do we summon the courage to say “no” to requests or demands that are not ours to assume?
~ Do we examine the real impetus for our frenetic chasing – or what we may be trying to avoid?
We have much to learn from the soil. When can learn to set aside our plans and productivity for a time, inviting the hidden longings of our souls to rise to the surface. We can learn to schedule quiet and restful spaces for our depleted soils and souls to recover and replenish. We can learn the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” We can learn to embrace the natural rhythms of life and of God, a balance of work and rest that is essential for our well-being.
What will we not do today in order to grow abundantly tomorrow?
1Read more at Gardening Know How: What Is Fallow Ground: Are There Any Benefits Of Fallowing Soil https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/what-is-fallow-ground.htm
Photo by Karen, Hurricane, WV