Growth in winter

Over the last few years I have begun to do a bit of gardening. Yes the dreaded 4-0 is heading my way soon. I can’t remember how it started, but I knew I couldn’t grow anything or plant anything in the garden as the dog would destroy it. So I decided upon getting a whole load of plastic planters and filling them with compost.

I didn’t realise the satisfaction of eating stuff that I had grown. The first year I managed to grow tomatoes, though most were green, the second and third years I have planted salads, spring onions and lettuce, herbs, betroot, and enjoyed the season of planting out in the spring to see how things would take shape over the summer. Last year I was given a chilli plant cutting which, in my sunroom yielded over 100 chillis and from them

Made chilli jam and sweet chilli sauce, as well as chutney from the apples on the trees. This autumn I wanted to keep the process going, instead of waiting until spring to try and grow from seed I’ve planted bulb instead. And so, over the coldest of winter days, darkest of days, there has been signs of movement and growth, as two stable crops in my kitchen have begun to grow. Garlic and onions, (to go with the now cut back and ready to grow again chilli)

In the darkness and cold, life can still occur, it’s hardly least expected on one hand as the instructions said to plant them in autumn. But there’s been growth in the winter, and 19 onion shoots are taking effect, as are the shoots from 3 garlic bulbs.

There are parallels here. Of course, I have been reading Leonardo Boff reflections on St Francis, who says that the place of the periphery and small is the place where Jesus is to be found. More likely dancing in the darkness and pointing towards the light. With the marginalised. Faith in unexpected places and growth from those encounters.

It is possible to plant in autumn and winter, it just needs to be more hardy a bulb and not a feeble seed. It is noticeable that Jesus farmer did not sow bulbs, bulbs that almost guarantee growth, (Though I’m not a gardener so don’t assume any real knowledge here) at least growth in winter. The talk of the town is of a difficult place, a cold place to be christian. In that case, it’s bulbs that need planting in winter. Faith that has a hardiness to cope. Seeds on the surface are unlikely to survive. But growth is possible in winter.

Author: James

Currently I work part time for both Frontier Youth Trust ( and Communities Together Durham ( , though this blog is my own personal views. I am also self employed and do various aspects of youthwork consultancy, including training, writing, lecturing, seminars and written pieces, including organisational consultancy, community profiling and detached/youthwork training. Please do get in touch if I can be of help to you in your church, project or organisation to develop your youth and community work. I have contributed to 'Here be Dragons (2013), and two recent articles in the youth and theology journal and 'ANVIL' the CMS online journal. My recent employment includes, working for FYT as a youthwork development adviser, being the centre director at Durham YFC, and before this I was known as 'Mr Sidewalk' as I was the project coordinator for the Sidewalk Project in Perth, where I facilitated the delivery of 5 years of detached youthwork on the streets, schools and communities to engage with young people , and support through alcohol misuse issues. In 2017 I completed an MA in Theology & Ministry at St John's College, Durham, and in 2008 graduated from ICC (now NTC Glasgow) with an honours degree in youth work with Applied theology.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.