Leader: In a world shadowed by cruelty, violence and loss, is there good reason for the planting of flowers?
People: Ah, yes! For these bursts of color
and beautiful blooms
are bright dabs of grace,
witnesses to a promise,
reminders of a spreading beauty
more eternal, and therefore stronger,
than any evil, than any grief,
than any injustice or violence.
from “A Liturgy for the Planting of Flowers” from “Every Moment Holy” by Douglas Kaine McKelvey
Our children are heirs to a divine inheritance! Not only are they sons and daughters of the High King, but they are also co-laborers with the first humans, Adam and Eve, and their call to care for this world! God has revealed aspects of His wondrous nature through… Nature! And we believe we do well to get our kids’ hands in the dirt (and our own) to participate in this, our ancient, noble heritage of tending this world toward beauty, goodness, and truth.
We here at The Cultivating Project want to invite you and your children to come along with us on a “Spring Awakening” experience, celebrating the goodness of our Father and the death of winter by believing in and bringing forth new life.
We will offer simple suggestions for the supplies you’ll need and basic instructions on how to get started.
Our chief desire is that your child (and you) would become awakened to the presence of God and His goodness as you participate with Him in His work to reclaim, redeem and restore the world around us. We hope this participation sparks an awareness of each of your giftings, but most importantly, that you sense and accept your true value as His dearly loved children. Each step of your plant’s life will have a liturgy to go with it! From seed, to sprout, to flower, you’ll get to read over your plant, and each other, a prayer that will reveal some of what God is up to in this act of creation.
Now, if you’re like us, when kids come home with school or church planting projects, they often either don’t grow or we forget to water them, or the cat knocks them over…etc. and the project sometimes ends in tears. Well, fear not! We want to show our children that God is present even in the things that don’t go according to our plans! He can teach us, according to His goodness, even in our failures. So, if something goes wrong, there’s a liturgy for that too!
As your plants progress, we would love to see and celebrate your progress! Tag The Cultivating Project on social media in any photos and write-ups of insights you’ve been given so we can all wonder together at how God is ‘blooming’ goodness all around our world.
Simple enough right? We recommend a flower. Edibles are wonderful but require more thought as to what you plant them in, what soil they require…etc.
An upcycled yoghurt cup works great or a container that you can re-use (or ‘redeem’ from the garbage!) Don’t forget to drill drainage holes! (This helps your plant thrive, and not get moldy roots.) Wrap your container in paper of some kind so your kids can decorate it themselves! Pride in ownership and appreciation for participation will be key to keeping your kids engaged in acts of faithfulness that can sometimes get tiresome.
When the water is poured, some may drain out the bottom, and you don’t want that water to run all over your surfaces. Also, in the early stages, if you have a tray that can handle a water level past the holes you drilled in the bottom of the container, then you can water your seedling by pouring water directly into the tray and it will be absorbed up through the holes! Incredible, right? This prevents the seed from being displaced early on by watering from the top. However, if this doesn’t seem to be working, gently water from the top as needed.
As the Parable of the Sower shows us, soil is important! (Reading that parable together may be a great start!) You can dig up some dirt from your yard, but that may or may not get the result you’re looking for, depending on where you live. You can buy potting soil or you can mix your own. (If you’re super ambitious and want this to have as much of a ‘from your own ground’ feel as possible, the ratio for a good ‘loam’ soil is 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay. There are videos online about how to do this. Also, make sure to sift out any rocks or other seeds from any soil you use from your own yard.)
We want to enrich our soil to increase the chances of success just like we want to enrich our children’s hearts with beauty, truth, and goodness! If you have purchased potting soil, you’re good to go! For any who have mixed their own soil, adding nutrients can be complicated. We recommend finding a good source on-line to walk you through this.
Once you have your supplies, let’s get started!
Step 1: DECORATE YOUR CONTAINER! 🙂
Step 2: Make a few holes in the bottom of your container if no drainage holes already exist.
Step 3: Get a tray for the container to sit on that will catch any water that might run out of the bottom, and to water the seedling early on from. You should be able to do this until it has sprouted.
Step 4: Fill the container with your soil. (Moistened soil will be MUCH easier to work with and won’t displace the seed when water is introduced even if you do water from the top.)
Step 5: Read instructions on your seed packet if available and follow them.
Step 6: If there are no instructions, press your finger down into the soil about 1 finger joint down. Lay the seed in the hole, lightly sprinkle dirt over the top of it, and gently pat the dirt down (but do not compact it).
Step 7: Set the container in a place where it will receive sunlight 6 or more hours a day (unless otherwise instructed by seed packet).
Step 8: Water the soil until the soil is wet like a wrung-out sponge. (If you pre-moistened your soil, you should be fine without watering right now. You’ll know it’s time to water later if you touch the soil and the soil is dry. Don’t over-water. You don’t want to drown your seed. Remember, if you have a tray for the container to sit on, you should be able to pour water into that and the water will absorb up through the drainage holes.)
Step 9: (Optional) Place a clear plastic bag over your container as the seed germinates to help retain soil moisture. (Sandwich bags work great.)
Step 10: Arrange a time of the day where you and your children can check the seed’s progress together. Your seed packet should set expectations correctly, however you’re likely to see a sprout within 7-14 days. This is a great time to practice patience and faithfulness, even when we cannot see the result!
Spring Awakening Project Liturgies
For three specially written liturgies to read with your kids, click here for Christina Brown’s Spring Awakening Project Liturgies.
Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t be! Remember, this doesn’t have to go perfectly for your family to have an enriching experience. Our desire is to make a level path for your hearts to see God present in your journey, whatever happens. Life will have starts and stops and times of abundance and times of scarcity. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” was not just written for the good times and successes! Paul’s prior examples show that in good times and bad, enduring suffering as well as enjoying pleasure are all acceptable and endurable when God walks with us. We want our kids to see God present in the full flower AND in a container where nothing grows – or when a squirt gun fight accidentally causes the container to fall and dump all over the place! What matters is that, whatever happens, you see God with you in every moment of your life. When our eyes are Awakened to this, we and our children can truly thrive!
Thank you for loving your kids! Thank you for trying new things! Thank you for risking frustration and fatigue and a bit of dirt in the house to bring your kids’ hearts a little closer to their Heavenly Father’s.
May we all find our hearts in His hands.
This project is the result of the joyful collaboration of Christina Brown, Nicole Howe, Adam R. Nettesheim, and Sarah Nettesheim for The Cultivating Project and Cultivating Kids. Watch for more to come!
The featured image is courtesy of Lancia E. Smith and used with her glad permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project. It was made in the Lake District Cumbria region of England and demonstrates a creative way to create access at a child’s level for engagement with planting.
Adam is a vagabond of the arts. He is an animator by training, a media specialist by vocation and a writer by hobby. Though he “still hasn’t found what he’s looking for”, in his wandering through the arts he has found the firm conviction that God has been writing His story through our stories since the beginning, and He’s not done yet. Adam and his wife Sarah have 3 children and live in Northern Colorado. His artistic interests range from G.K. Chesterton to Looney Tunes.