Originally published in the June 2016 Monthly Explorer

“Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson, Summer Sun

June can be a month of transitions. It marks the end of the spring and the start of summer. Graduation – from one season to the next. And so goes the Gardener of the World whom Stevenson mentions – moving with us through the seasons of our lives.

In his book Stages of Faith, theologian James Fowler describes six stages (or seasons) through which we all may move as we transition from one age to the next in our spiritual development: intuitive projective; mythical literal; synthetic conventional; individuative reflective; conjunctive and universalizing. According to Fowler, we evolve from our childhood mythic and moralistic stage (mythic literal) to young adulthood (individuative reflective), where we explore ourselves in-depth, questioning and establishing why we believe what we
believe. Eventually, as we grow older, we accept our limitations and life’s paradoxes, with the potential to feel the spiritual connection with all being.

Indeed, like the seasons, our faith moves through transitions – with periods of fertility and growth, pruning and shaping, and wintry times which seem stagnant and unchanging. What season do you find yourself in right now? Perhaps you feel you have days or events which may take you through several of Fowler’s stages at once, only to arrive where you originally started, with a strengthened belief and connection to God.

Wherever you find yourself right now, be encouraged that just as the Gardener of the World moves us from earthy season to season, Christ’s love is gardening our souls, moving us from one spiritual season to the next. And although growing sometimes comes with the pain of pruning and transplanting, new growth will surely flourish and bear fruit – this is the gift and promise of God’s grace and love.

May you be blessed, and may you be a blessing.