Here in Kentucky, we're getting ready for the bumper crop of tomatoes that summer inevitably brings. Over in Arizona, Erin
is reflecting on tomatoes, parenting, and spiritual growth. You can read more of Erin's unique blend of sassiness and faith on her blog
, Facebook page
, and Twitter
It’s fixin' to be June in Phoenix. Lord help us…
Some of you know that I’m kind of a snob about tomatoes. I mean, I LOVE
tomatoes…But by "tomato," I do not mean those things that come out of a
California hot house in January. That is NOT a tomato. A tomato comes from Mamaw’s garden. You go get it right before dinner, you rinse off the dirt, and
you slice it up to top the burgers.
I can rhapsodize about a real tomato all day long—and the perfect BLT that I
make when, on the rarest of occasions, I can lay hands on an actual tomato in
the desert. My 4-year-old daughter loves tomatoes, too. In fact, she
frequently asks for them at the grocery store. I usually say, "no, it’s not
time for tomatoes." Which, 9/10ths of the time, is the dang truth.
So when she spied some on the kitchen counter recently, she said excitedly,
"Is it TIME for tomatoes??!" And when I said yes, she proceeded to eat one
whole, on the spot. “I want to eat tomatoes with things for like, a WEEK," she said. (As everyone knows, a WEEK, in 4-year-old time, is an eternity…)
Was it a real, Kentucky-grown, July garden tomato? Nah. But it was not too
shabby for Arizona. It made a decent BLT.
Thing is, for all my vigilance in the seasonal produce department, I often
forget that other things have seasons --and off-seasons-- too. Every year, in
this May-to-June window, I say, “This is it. This is going to be the year when
our summer worship attendance doesn’t fall off, and we will maintain all this
momentum, and we will build programs, and nothing will slow down at
all…And come August, it will be time to start TWO SERVICES!”
And yeah, every year, I make a liar of myself.
Thing is—it’s not such a bad thing to have times of year when things move a
little more slowly. I think the key is to focus intention in these
off-seasons. For instance--if we are planning a slower pace, an easier schedule,
and a simpler rhythm during the summer months…what will we do with that time?
What is our goal in slowing down? Are we doing less, so that the Spirit can do
more in us? Or are we just getting lazy? Might seem like a fine line, but there
is a difference.
The cluster of stories in the 10th chapter of Luke’s gospel
call it the "Hear-do-be"
trifecta—illustrates the seasonal truth of
spiritual growth. The connected narratives of the Parable of the Sower
the Good Samaritan
, and the Mary/Martha Moment
remind us that there is a right time for everything: there’s a time to hear
God’s word and grow in it; there’s a time for DOING, and living out our faith
in tangible ways; and, there’s a time to simply be…enjoying life in the
presence of God and community.
It’s summer in Phoenix. It is a THOUSAND degrees in the shade. You can’t go
outside. Lots of folks (smart folks) skip town, so regular church-as-we-know-it
has to stop until September. Meanwhile, I am getting ready to move my family
across the country…in September. Which is to say that NOTHING about my life
feels seems to be in the normal rhythm right now. Mentally, I am everywhere (Kentucky, Arizona,
Kansas, and, somehow, the beach) while also being exactly nowhere.
So my goal, in this season of soul-crushing heat, and soul-challenging
transition, is to enjoy that which is in season. To be fully present the life
that is, right now. Because this
season—even with its climate-related misery and life-related ambiguity—is a
gift. The slower pace and the sacred space remind us that the Spirit’s timing
is present, and right, in everything..