Be a SF Gardener

Be a gardener.

Dig a ditch

Toil and sweat,

and turn the earth upside down

and seek the deepness

and water the plants in time.

Continue this labor

And make the sweet floods to run

and noble and abundant fruits to spring.

Take this food and drink

and carry it to God

as your true worship.

— Julian of Norwich (1)


This beautiful meditation begins the book, Cultivating Wholeness: A Guide to Care and Counseling in Faith Communities by Margaret Kornfeld. She rightfully describes it as an expression of ministry, and broadly speaking it is exactly that. Inherent in the process Julian alludes to is the work on our own internal gardens.

According to Genesis, man was originally charged to work and take care of the garden God made. Reflecting God, Adam was able to penetrate into the essence of a thing. He was able to perceive the truth in every living creature. Hence his work of naming the parts of creation wedded the pre-existent Word with the articulated speech of man. Every name he designated was an authentic flowering of the particular seed God had planted. Truth in speech is the work of a gardener.

With generous abandon, God has scattered seed everywhere. The authentic gardener, having turned his own earth upside down, is ready to touch the depths in another and provide the right opportunity for growth. In truth this is a sharing of two gardens, a communion of food and drink. In ICF terms this might be considered Partnering(3). In FFS we carry this to God as true worship.

Joseph Cannon



  1. Julian of Norwich, “Be a Gardener,” in Meditations with Julian of Norwich, edited by Brendan Doyle.

  2. Image Attribution: Evelyn Simak, The church of SS Andrew and Mary - St Julian of Norwich

  3. "Partnering with Clients"

Read more from Julian of Norwich on the Internet Archive

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