Lying Fallow

When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening.

Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

can’t get the words out of my mind: a comment left here by Linda Wisniewski in which she used the term “lying fallow and being present”.

I wake and these words rise with me. They are my gentle companions throughout the day and, as I settle in to read at night, they’re still with me.

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 the 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 also know that neglecting a personal season of fallow will eventually hinder my own ability to be productive.

I know this, but when words like Linda’s stop me it’s a sign I need to take stock. Am I neglecting the discipline of being present? Am I turning my focus from being to doing? Have I become so busy that I don’t delight in the simple gifts of every day?

My purpose is not to do, but to delight in the gifts presented to me every single day.

I am intentional about acknowledging simple happy moments because my delight in them glorifies the Giver of them. I am mindful of, and appreciate the beauty of, that which is created because it honours the Creator. I write about these things to remind myself, and those gentle ones who come here to read, that busyness robs us of delight and keeps us from gratitude.

And yet, I am tempted again and again to return to a state of busyness. 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 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.

At other times, weary and worn, we choose to turn from activity and lie fallow when we accept the gift of an ordinary day, or part of a day, and curl up to read, or write, or listen to music, or take a walk, or even weep if we’re in a season of grieving.

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 on our way. We pay attention, we listen, we find direction.

And we do this again and again, and gently we let go of the need to do and begin to delight.

And, I doing so, we honour the Creator.

And we are inspired and equipped to continue on in our creative pursuits.

And it is well.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. What a great post, your words resonate in me! Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Thank you.

  2. Busy-ness always beckons. Lying fallow is not familiar, at least it’s not my “default.” Good reminder, Linda.

    1. It’s something I have to remind myself of often too, Marian. It wasn’t always this way. Our world moves so quickly and there are so many (perhaps too many?) choices and opportunities available to us that it can be hard to embrace the discipline of being still. I’m convinced, though, that some of the deepest growth occurs in seasons of stillness.

  3. Truly I was guided here today. Your words have put feet to my feelings that were hard to identify. Thank you….You are for sure a gifted writer….

    1. Nanci, thank you. I wish for you a season of lying fallow that uniquely satisfies that for which your soul longs. Have a blessed day.

  4. What a nice surprise, Linda! So happy my words inspired this beautiful post.

    1. Thank you for the inspiration, Linda!

  5. Dear Linda, it seems to me that I have spent my life trying to live in the present and in Presence. Lying fallow in the present was a gift given to me last year when I had a serious back surgery with over six months of recuperation. But even then busy-ness beckoned and I had to restrain myself from thinking–always thinking–about what I wanted to be doing. That seemed to be my default–to always be resting within a plan for what I could be doing.

    So I’m taking your post to heart as I continue through February and on into my life’s journey. Peace.

    1. You raise a valid point, Dee: that sometimes we find ourselves in seasons of forced fallow. I wonder if we might weather them differently if we are intentional about taking such seasons when we don’t necessarily have to. Wishing you well as you continue your journey.

  6. Such wisdom in your words, Linda. I need to heed them in my life, too. You are so right about so many choices that it is hard for us to just be. Thank you for this very poignant piece.

    1. Linda, thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. This is a reminder I need in my own life often. It seems I’m not alone.

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