I took advantage of the unseasonably mild weather around the neighborhood in East Lansing where my son, Sam, and his family live. It is an area with a pleasant diversity of residential architecture, perhaps what one should expect in such close proximity to a major university. There are many very nice homes—brick or stone, mostly—with well-tended lawns.
Quite a few of them also have tastefully done landscaping. Contour plantings of vinca, hosta, hydrangeas and a variety of other plants wind their way around the houses and along the drives or sidewalks. Some have Boston ivy covering the walls of houses shielded by tall shade trees. Every now and then one will see a Japanese maple adding its elegant shape and contrasting colors to the greens of surrounding vegetation. The rich tones of lush lawns provide a harmonizing blend of tones and textures. It is like walking through a life-size issue of Better Homes & Gardens. The beauty of these homes and gardens is soothing, aesthetically nourishing.
Occasionally, though, one may see sections of brown grass and small plots of heavily wilted hydrangeas or vinca or other plants. It is a none-too-subtle reminder of the role that irrigation or other form of supplemental watering plays. No matter how healthy the plant, deprive it of water for a while and it will soon succumb to the heat and wind. Even in the shady areas, drought deprives vines and flowers, bushes and shrubs of needed moisture.
So, too, even the strongest of faith need the regular nourishment of soul and spirit: time spent in the Word, time spent in the Spirit, time spent in fellowship with others. We need the refreshing of worship, the quiet seeking, the empowering presence that flows through believing prayer.
In the gentle rains of the Comforter’s fillings, we are strengthened and readied for the things to come. Like well-tended gardens, we will flourish with not only the blooms of promise but also with the fruit of the Spirit that so richly blesses our lives and the lives of others.