Can I Garden, Mr. Peterson?

In Steven Purcell’s 09/07/08 High Calling interview with Eugene Peterson, creator of The Message, Peterson said of Sabbath, “It isn’t just a day off. Think of practices like photography, painting, watercolor, bird watching, all these activities slow you down and make you pay attention.”

Peterson is absolutely right. But I have a question. Can I garden? I’ve been doing it anyway, well, at least weeding.

Each Sabbath I find myself weeding, probably because the Sabbath is the only day I sit on the front porch overlooking my one and only flower bed. It’s the day I stop and smell the weeds.

I think weeding is a wonderful metaphor for one of the purposes of Sabbath. I take a day to weed out the distractions that crowd my life — housework, real work, news, noise — and make space for Who matters.

Now that the weeds are no longer stealing the good soil, my flowers can breathe. I prune a bit, too, removing the dead buds that will not bloom again.  Sabbath prunes me as well, from the good intentions that didn’t last. Flower petals lay on the ground. I am old enough to have lost a few rosebuds along life’s way. Sabbath says, It’s okay. Let them be compost!

The clock strikes 5:00 p.m., and my Sabbath ends. I look at the dirt between my flowers, grateful they now have space. As do I. Just enough until next week, when I get weeded again.