Living and Working In the Creator's Garden

focused word of the year Jun 11, 2024

By Paul Roberts

I recently spent a little time looking back at my blog post from mid-January in an effort to examine my own personal journey here in 2024. I like to think that time of reflection was triggered by time in my backyard garden. The Creator still enjoys time in the garden with His creation - me.

It has been an unusual year in my backyard garden. There are several shrubs that didn’t weather very well this winter, and I recently spent some time pruning back a great deal of the dead branches, trying to re-shape the plants into something pleasing to the eye. That process is going to continue, a bit this summer, and likely even more this fall.

My three year old grape vine seemed the hardest hit. I told Carol six weeks ago that it had not survived, and as of late last week it was showing no sign of green buds. I was resisting the urge to dig it up, cast it aside, and purchase a new plant in its place. Imagine my joy, my pleasure, when Carol pointed out to me on Sunday afternoon the bright green leaves bursting from my “dead” grapevine.

My mid-January blog post (you can examine the pertinent parts down below) was about my “word of the year,” a way of encouraging some growth in this garden called Paul Kelly. My own examination was showing me too many areas in my life that “had not wintered over” very well. Fortunately, my Creator continues to be patient with me. After all, patience is one of the “fruits” of the Creator’s character that can also bloom in me.

So, as I patiently, diligently, one day at a time continue to water, prune, feed, and take pleasure in my backyard garden, I’ll take note that my Creator works in that same way within me.   

FOCUSED: Facing Outward, Calibrating Upward, Savoring Each Day

Facing Outward: My goal to be more focused is admirable, but if I am not careful, my feeling of a need to focus can make me turn too far inward. My introvert side needs to be fed, and last year was too busy. Carol and I want to make sure we don’t take on too much this year, that we narrow our focus. Nevertheless, I also desire to recognize my need to continue to face outward each day. Face outward, toward my Creator, to people and things outside of me, beyond my walls, and into my community. 

Calibrating Upward: As I face outward, I want to be calibrating upward. Calibrate - to carefully assess, set, adjust. This “careful” calibration will need to be done regularly, at times daily, and will likely require some changing of habits. One of my favorite verses of scripture is found in Philipians 4:8, which reads “ Finally,...whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Consider this part of my “positive purge.”   

Savoring Each Day: This is where my introverted soul gets fed. This is the work of my contemplative soul, leading to regular times of inward reflection. Not an inwardness that leads to a self-centered privatism, gratifying only my own needs and desires; but an awareness of self that leads me back to community and a commitment to see the transformation and growth of that community.


We are halfway through 2024. Is it time to take stock in what the Creator is accomplishing in your life? Do it gently.

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