The Fallow Times
Michael Ellis

I have spent every Easter for the past 20 years leading nature trips into the desert. Everyone always wants to see the wildflowers in bloom. I have to tell them that the many wonders of the desert (the geology, the reptiles, the birds, the coyotes) are the main course of our nature meal and the flowers, when they come, are well, like dessert. This spring we didn’t even have a measly little sweet tidbit after dinner- there was absolutely nothing with a flower on it. It was the poorest year I have ever seen. I stood looking over a familiar landscape that in the previous years could be canyon wall to canyon wall with a dozen different species of flowers exploding in a delightful melody of colors and there was nothing but dry, dirty brown. It was bleak.

But this got to be thinking about the importance of fallow times. As the Old Testament states there is a season for every thing – a time to sow and a time to reap. The fields have to lie fallow in order to nurture the coming bounty. I am sure that there have been many times in your life, certainly there has been in mine, when it seems that nothing is happening. It could be a lack of passion in your relationship, a lull in your creative energy at school or at work, or a dull depressing feeling of just plain being bored. You have to just remember that this apparent “down time” is not necessarily wasted time. Try to eliminate the guilt and realize that maybe you just need to sit still in that uncomfortable place of “not accomplishing, of not doing”.

Certainly there are many spiritual approaches that recognize the importance of being fallow. Priests of various religions often take vows of celibacy or even vows of silence. Every Muslim partakes in the fast of Ramadan. Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days of abstinence. Zen Buddhism tries to still the mind by meditation, a form of fallowness.

So relax and use these periodic times in your life of quietness and repose. The rains will come and the desert flowers will bloom and what was empty, will be full, what was missing, will be found.

This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.

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November 7, 2010