February 08, 2019

Lying Fallow by Linda Hoye

I can’t get the words out of my mind. A reader leaves a comment on my blog in which she uses the phrase “lying fallow and being present” and for days, I wake and the words rise with me. They are my gentle companions throughout the day and, as I settle in to read at night, they join me in nighttime rumination.
Fallow: —adj, 1. (of land) left unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop. 2. (of an idea, state of mind, etc) undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful.

Can the Creator speak truth to me through the words of another? I believe so, and as these words play again and again in my mind, I sense a whisper.
As a gardener, I know the importance of crop rotation, feeding the soil, and that farmers will intentionally leave a piece of land fallow for a season. I know that neglecting these practices will result in undernourished soil, and an unproductive garden or crop. I know, too, that neglecting a personal season of fallow will eventually hinder my own ability to be productive.
I know this, but when words like these stop me in my tracks, it’s a sign that I need to take stock. Am I neglecting the discipline of being present? Am I shifting my focus from being to doing? Have I become so busy that I have forgotten to delight in God’s simple, but priceless, gifts?
My purpose is not to do, but to delight in the ordinary moments of every single day--more than that, to delight in the One who gifts me with them. When I take pleasure in simple moments, my joy glorifies God. When I am mindful of and appreciate the beauty of creation, it honours the Creator.
“Gratitude exclaims... 'How good of God to give me this.' Adoration says, 'What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!' One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.”
C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
I write about these things to remind myself, and others who read my words, that busyness robs us of grace and keeps us from gratitude, and yet, I am tempted again and again to return to a state of running. Maybe you too? I become anxious, I fear I’m not doing enough, and–and this is the crux of it all–I begin to fear insignificance. I so easily forget that I am treasured and significant simply by virtue of the fact that I was created.
January, and maybe part of February, are natural seasons for lying fallow and allowing ourselves the gift of refreshing. With hubbub of the holidays behind us we feel a call to rest. Our storehouses are full from the summer’s work, we’ve got quilts and books at hand, days are dark and short and, as the snow falls soft, we rest.
Lying fallow invites us to be present. We practice, and our intention turns to habit. We sit at a window and watch snow fall like feathers without grieving the absence of sunshine. We stir a pot of chili as a meditation, without looking at the clock. We watch children play, and listen to their laughter, without hurrying to get something done. We pay attention, we listen, and we find wisdom.
We do this again and again, and gradually we let go of the need to do and begin to delight and in doing so, we honour our God. We are inspired and equipped; we continue on our creative path and we write another paragraph.

Linda Hoye is a writer, photographer, gardener, and somewhat-fanatical grandma. She lives in British Columbia with her husband and their doted-upon Yorkshire Terrier, but she’ll always be a Saskatchewan prairie girl. She is the author of Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude. Her work has been included in two anthologies, as well as assorted online and in-print publications. She loves Moleskin notebooks, multi-coloured index cards and sticky notes, Uni-Ball 207 gel pens, and soy milky frothy coffee. Find her online at www.lindahoye.com where she ruminates about life and faith every day.


  1. Your words speak so well to the time following Advent and Christmas, busy and filled with more activities than we often can manage. Then January and February arrive. A time for refreshing and rest, like the fallow plot the farmer leaves to rest. Thanks for this reminder that we need to take time for the simple joys of living.

  2. Sherrey, I know you appreciate this season of quiet as I do. The older I get, the more I understand and appreciate how much clearer I hear in the season of lying fallow.

  3. Hi Linda. Ahh, your post felt like a hug as a read it. Your words massaged peace into my heart as I read, "We sit at a window and watch snow fall like feathers without grieving the absence of sunshine. We stir a pot of chili as a meditation, without looking at the clock." You have a great way with words that resonate with my heart. Keep writing my friend. By the way, I live in BC as well. :)

  4. I felt a calm come over me as I read your blog, Linda. I don't remember this particular C.S. Lewis quote, but I love it. I had to check the definition of "coruscations," which is a beautiful word. I love, "One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.”

    I agree with you that "busyness robs us of grace and keeps us from gratitude." Even when we are aware of this, it is so easy to get back on that treadmill called life. I can identify strongly with your paragraph following the Lewis quote, especially the last sentence here, where you say, "I so easily forget that I am treasured and significant simply by virtue of the fact that I was created." So true, Linda. We are human beings--not human doings. Thanks for your ponderings.

  5. "Lying fallow and being present." A striking phrase. I find that these winter months are perfect for this time where many of us can be quieter … to wait and listen. To be present.

    Thank you so much for a lovely post, Linda.

  6. What a beautiful post! (we stir a pot of chili as a meditation) Thank-you for the words that invite me to be present.


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