Farming: Tending to the Roots

Shooting Star Flower
Shooting Star Flower

Life is slowly starting to lift itself out of the soil of my home garden, reaching itself above the threshold of a cold-ass winter. Every morning I go out to my garden and check on the progress of growth. How many more leaves came up over night on my coneflowers? How expansive has my oregano become? What has broken through the soil that I had forgotten about over the long winter?

I've been paying particular attention to one of my Shooting Star plants.

One of mine looks great and is on the verge of blooming. The second one is tiny, too tiny. I took a closer look the other day and noticed its roots are exposed, resting on top of the soil. Garden 101: roots need to be BELOW the soil.

I've gone back to this Shooting Star each day since, looking at the exposed roots, picturing the hard winter snow, wind, and cold slowing moving the soil off this plant, leaving it vulnerable to the chilly spring and die with roots exposed.

Exposed roots of my Shooting Star
Exposed roots of my Shooting Star

Then I caught myself this morning: Why do I just keep looking at this plant? Why don't I dig it up, transplant it and give it a chance at growth? Why am I just sitting here staring at it? Why am I acting all powerless with this plant?

I dug up the plant, created a hole in the soil, placed it down, covered the roots with soil, and watered.

Agency. Power.

Exposed roots leave plants vulnerable. Too vulnerable. The same with me.

Being a pastor is a public act. I work in community. Every Sunday I get up in front of 80 people and share interpretations of life and Biblical stories. I share parts of me, take risks in sharing parts of me in order to feel connected to the liturgical space and people of Pilgrims, and to also give others permission for others to express their own vulnerability.

Shooting Star with roots underneath the soil.
Shooting Star with roots underneath the soil.

There is a dance with sharing. If I share "this" will I be over-exposed? Will I share too much of my roots? What happens if I release too much of my essence? Can I get that back?

Soil contains plants. It covers up the roots in order for a plant to grow, flourish, give back to the planet, and release its beauty. The roots need to be covered up. If exposed I can be that plants agent, act on its behalf, and cover it up.

There is always a risk in transplanting. But there is a bigger risk in doing nothing at all.

My morning ritual is this: I get up, do legs up the wall for 5 minutes and count my inhales and exhales. I picture honeybees flowing gently in and out of my hive. I drink a homemade tea of lemon, honey, and raw apple cider vinegar.

This is my soil. This is what contains me each day. This ritual takes my roots and grounds them within me. I feel held. Contained. When I skip this ritual, especially several days in a row, I feel all ziggy-zaggy. As if my roots are exposed like the Shooting Star. Soil is a boundary against the elements. My morning ritual creates boundaries and builds boundary awareness--knowing when my roots are over exposed, when they are grounded within, and that each day I have the power to know the difference.