My wife and I have begun working in our back garden. We started last year ripping out old plants and turning over the planting beds to make way for new growth. This year that task continues, but we have decided to expand our garden to make room for vegetable plants. I am not sure how many or what varieties we will plant, but the way has been cleared for this year and for future expansion.
Most of what we dug, we moved to other locations in the garden, but some plants we gave away, and some tossed on the pile. The garden has been overgrown from lack of attention over the years, and we are working to reclaim planting beds from invasive plants. It is not an easy decision, but sometimes, other plants have to go for the health of other plants.
In the Gospel passage appointed for today from the Gospel of John, Jesus uses the image of pruning a vine. The pruning of plants is an essential and healthy part of gardening. By pruning plants, the energy of the plant is redirected chiefly to the growth of that plant. If dead or sick branches are removed, the plant will come back stronger and healthier.
Jesus uses this image to help us focus on our spiritual life. Whatever does not bear fruit in our spiritual life, whatever is sick or dead in our spiritual life, cut it off and dispose of it. To have a fruitful spiritual life, we need to be operating at our best, and that cannot happen if we are carrying things that do not bear fruit in our lives.
Our bodies are made up of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual if one part of our body is not functioning properly, the other parts will also not work properly. To remain healthy, we need to adopt a healthy lifestyle. There are hundreds of books and articles on the topic of keeping our bodies in their shape. Do this exercise, eat this food, cut out that food, and all the rest. We spend thousands of hours and thousands of dollars each year on our physical body, but what of the mental and spiritual?
Many folks work with a personal trainer or nutritionist to get their physical bodies in shape. If you desire to get your spiritual life in shape, work with a spiritual director, guide, or coach. Just as the personal trainer will help you work with this machine or that machine, the Spiritual Director will assist in getting your spiritual life tuned to its highest potential.
To have proper balance in our lives, all three areas have to be working at their best. Just as we cut things out of our physical lives, we should do the same in our spiritual and mental lives. Getting our spiritual life in tune takes time and daily practice. Just like our physical bodies, our spiritual needs to be conditioned, so take it slow and build up over time.
Friends, take time to get your spiritual life in shape. Prune away those things that do not bear fruit in your lives, and you will see a difference.