Most of us enjoy getting out into the countryside even if we don’t fancy the really wild landscapes of mountain or forest. Open spaces are satisfying to the soul.
This photo features a farm in Brittany, not far from Mont St Michel. Rich agricultural land produces great harvests: in the early summer, the fields were a patchwork of fields of vegetable and specialities in demand for the excellent local cuisine.
My attraction to this scene is the network of lines: fields are separated by lines of wind-breaking trees, and low earthworks and ditches. At first sight, it seems chaotic: however there is a clever and careful order that has been created by the farmers. Out of this structure comes fruitfulness- it is one of the most productive agricultural provinces. It is also home to wonderful cheese, and seafood caught locally is popular and excellent.
Left to itself, this rich land would quickly revert to overgrown thickets and marsh.
Order has been imposed on the chaos.
Soul-care has similarities. Left to our own devices, the spiritual chaos can take over quickly. Disciplined practice of habits that promote growth are deeply beneficial. Becoming intimately aware of the God revealed in the Bible, time given to prayer (listening as well as speaking!), and the commitment to meet regularly with other Christians are things that all promote order and growth. Are we willing to choose order over chaos? Will we commit to fruitfulness?
Now, a word for those (like myself) who more closely resemble a cottage garden- masses of flowers of all colours– than a carefully organised farm. Relax! It’s OK. We don’t all fit the same pattern. The best cottage gardens have their own “informal formality” as items are chosen and planted with a view to the overall effect. Colours and successive flowering are not accidental, but the spontaneity and variety contribute to a beauty of its own kind.
There is still the potential for neglect and carelessness to allow disaster. Weeding, sowing, and fresh planting still take time and thought.
Genesis begins with a creation of chaos being ordered by the Sovereign Will and Power of the Almighty- order is established, and a study of the Book of Revelation tells us that the degenerate chaos of a world wrecked by carelessness and wilful greed will once more be brought into good order.
Spend a few moments comparing your inner life to the positively ordered variety of the farmland in the photograph. Or look at the picture below as a sample taken from a garden tended with love. How can God help you bring order in the chaotic places of your soul? Invest in positive choice, engage in some spiritual tending of your heart and your community. Then watch as God speaks order from chaos- just for you!