Last year my prayer life told me it was pruning season. After years of being in the full bloom of my outward call, it was time to re-evaluate life’s commitments. God was inviting me to a period of letting go of well-discerned commitments of the past. Many were once the luscious, vibrant signs of new growth in my life, but not anymore. There were pieces of my life, while familiar and comfortable, that were slowly being overtaken by the rapid growth of new invitations.
Pruning felt scary, because it meant cutting back and letting go. Pruning required cutting back those things that overpowered the rest of life to the point of making life feel lopsided. Pruning required trimming away the brown underbrush of my life, the pieces that I desperately tried to keep, but in reality had already died. Clinging tightly to Ignatian discernment tools and with the Spirit’s help, I prayed my way through the season of letting go.
I desperately hoped that pruning season would lead me directly into spring and summer, where there would be rapid new growth and clarity of my call. However, that season only prepared me for winter, the season of dormancy, temporary inactivity, and deep rest. Entering into this season of dormancy required special precaution.
I prepared myself for the dormant season by limiting my commitments to only the necessary ones, covering myself in extra time with my family and friends, and most importantly, giving myself permission to stop writing and producing creative material. Prayer affirmed God’s invitation to deep rest and acknowledgment of my exhaustion. Leaning into this period of dormancy was not easy. After blooming for so long, all the growth seemed to be inward, and I struggled to name the fruits of any of my work.
It is only now, after many months of dormancy, that signs of new life appear, holding their own surprises. I am now actively discerning what this new season means for me. What parts of my life are actively growing again, re-affirming my commitment to them? Where do I see new long shoots of possibility, beckoning to burst open with hope? What areas of my life were pruned away or killed off that no longer require my time, energy, or attention?
The season of pruning was needed to let go of old ways and old commitments, allowing me to give energy to the things that God is inviting me to now. The season of dormancy was necessary for restorative rest and to re-focus my growing season. I see signs of new life all around me, and I am full of hope that outward growth is occurring again. Now my task is to discern all the new life around me.
Today’s 31 Days with St. Ignatius link is The Earthen Vessel.