simple steps to reduce carbon footprints and achieve spiritual climate change

The winter rains may prove 2023 a fine year for grapes
front yard (2016)

For twenty-two years I have been fairly successful at one hobby: gardening. During the first decade as a homeowner, gophers and drought ruined the pre-existing lawn and rosebushes, which I then replaced with drought-tolerant plants and mulched the remainder of the front yard. During the second decade, a manzanita which apparently grew out from a truckload of mulch, flourished. About the same time, I planted two shrubs, Yellowbells (tecoma stans) , which in the last ten or so years I trained to grow into 12-foot “trees”. The useable part of our backyard, which had been enlarged by a retaining wall (12 years ago?!) was partly bordered by apricot and peach trees, as well as a cactus. Though everything throughout front and back seemed to be very green, our neighbors must have been relieved when we decided to “keep up with the Joneses”. Our entire landscape, but for the two tecoma stans in the front yard was replaced with a specifically planned waterwise landscape and decomposed granite hardscape a year and a half ago. Because we had Comet and Dexter living with us, we decided to keep everything very basic and use large containers for anything we introduced going forward. But with our old pals crossing the rainbow bridge last August, I began to look at making the backyard more bird – and bee-friendly. Encouraged by the torrential rains from January through March, I wanted to add a little water feature into the backyard corner.

backyard (2021)

The wet winter and early Spring caused everything to really thrive, though the normally dry-favoring Yellowbells turned a bit ragged and yellowish. But they are starting to respond well to the last several days of 80F -ish temperatures. A few mornings working on the addition of a water feature in the backyard has helped me get a little needed exercise and completing a task that has been planned for six months.

Having helped my son begin the task of clearing weeds that sprang up all over his property from the same rains, I am grateful for landscaping that minimizes labor. I am also grateful, with home prices going into orbit all over the country, our decisions and our desire are moderated by our values. We do not fear climate change or crises that we reasonably expect to be coming. Though society may implode in the next decade, I have faith that everything will work out for those I love.

pond work in progress

One of the tenets of my faith, is to focus on what draws me, my family, and my associates closer to spiritual values that are collectively known as “fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22- 26, NIV). Spending time with my wife, children and grandchildren brings us Love and Joy. Turning off media and away from negative-minded people, increases our Peace, Patience, and Kindness. Finding ways to help others in need develops Goodness. Having time to pray helps my self-control. Working in my garden and watching birds that flitter reassures me. Spending time with like-minded Christian friends is another. Filtering negativity and materialism that is prevalent in social media is yet another (however, pages that promote gardens, animals, and human decency are favored.)

This week, I have been studying again what it means to be “in Christ”. My late friend and mentor, beginning about twenty years ago helped me to delve deeper into scriptural understanding and application as a disciple, a follower or student, of Jesus Christ. In New Testament Greek, the word meno is used to describe where one rests, stays, or remains. This term was used 112 times in the New Testament (a third of these are found in the Gospel of John). Being a follower of Jesus, as his twelve disciples were, was a daily living (meno) with him, learning and modeling their lives on his. One scripture that describes this living “in Christ”, is John 14:20. Understanding the life that Jesus led, and basing our decisions or responses on the way that Jesus responded in the scriptures helps me to thrive in my soul and my interactions with others. As someone who loves gardening, Jesus describes life “in Him” as in a grapevine (John 15:4-5, NIV). We thrive, like my grapes are thriving now, fed and nurtured by Jesus. However, apart from the vine, the branches and suckers I pruned to allow the grapes to grow fruitfully, will not produce anything.

waterwise front yard, Spring 2023
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