Fallow Time ....by Sr. Monika

The psalmist wrote, “...the hills are arrayed with flocks; the fields are blanketed with grain.” I enjoy these images. Blankets of grain. It isn’t hard to imagine such a glorious scene. The earth in our part of the world is bursting with new life right now–hyacinths, violets, fruit trees, big leaf maples. How does this happen year after year? It seems incredible that a seed puts forth its shoots just because it was put into the ground. That soil and its moisture along with the sun’s warmth make it happen. Time and time again I am amazed. Such powerful energy. Such constant production.

Yet, humans can overdo it. We can and we have planted fields so often that they are stripped of nutrients and energy so that they cannot produce anymore. Another psalmist wrote, “…my soul yearns for you like a dry, weary land...” That image is sad. I can imagine that people in the dust bowl of the early 20th century in America experienced what a dry and weary land looked like. In time, we figured out that the fields need to rest. They need fallow time, a time of no production, a time of replenishing. The seeds planted in a fallow field leave their goodness in the soil, which becomes rich, restored, and able to produce again.

I have fallow times. During these times I simply cannot “produce” anything. It is a frustrating time when I have ideas but no energy to pursue them. It is a time that calls for patience, and it helps to remember that I’ve gone through this before. I can forget that fallow times come, leaving me feeling like a dry and weary land. In those fallow times I feed my imagination on images in books and galleries. I read about the creative process. I dabble at drawing so as not to lose my skill. I spend a lot of time alone simply looking and waiting. I might enjoy those days--except for the frustration.

Seed Sprout from vecteezy.com

Then one day a shoot sprouts, a tender idea, a little bit of energy and the time of waiting is over. I take up my pen or paint or thread and make something. The fallow days were not days when nothing was happening. Underneath it all, I was gaining strength and insight. I had time to examine my life in an effort to see its direction. Am I still fully engaged in my vocation as a Christian? Do I work for justice and peace? Am I faithful to the monastic way? How do I express my love for my sisters in Christ? Do I dedicate my work to God? These questions help me stay on track. It is the wisdom of fallow time. I take stock in what has been...in order to move into a future of love and hope.

Another piece of wisdom that fallow time offers me is a connection to Mother Earth. She rotates daily on her axis and yearly around the sun. She rests sometimes and she produces sometimes. She does not wear herself out or lose any of her endless creativity. I am comforted by the changes in the seasons and I connect my fallow time with the autumn and winter. Nothing is lost. It just goes underground.

Coming out of a fallow time, I await what will grow with energy and enthusiasm. I look forward to producing works of beauty--my way of contributing to the bounty of what is--until the next fallow time, I will keep on seeing and listening and appreciating all that God has provided.






  • Comment posted by Janice Joy Ariza on April 24, 2024 at 11:58AM (57 days ago)

    Dear Sr. Monika,
    What a beautiful expression of how patience in those times brings a harvest of understanding and creativity. It is often so difficult to let things be and just receive each season as is.
    Thank you - I am very encouraged by your writing.

    • Comment posted by S. Monika on April 26, 2024 at 2:57PM (55 days ago)

      Thank you, Janice.

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