“All through the long winter I dream of my garden. On the first warm day of Spring I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy and my spirits soar.”
~Helen Hays, quoted in Like a Garden: A Biblical Spirituality of Growth by Sara Coven Juengst (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996)
I may not dream of my garden all winter long, but as soon as the air is warmed by the sun, I itch to begin planting.
I love the growing season in Lower Mainland British Columbia! I live in a condominium and my garden grows on my patio. I so enjoy its growth and unfolding colour, both outside and from my kitchen table.
Purple is one of my favourite flower colours, so last year I chose to adorn my patio with purple lavenders and pansies. It was quite lovely! However, by the end of the growing season, I realized that I missed flowers of other colours like red salvias, white petunias, and yellow daisies.
That’s when I decided that this year would be different. My favourite purple flowers are present, but so are red geraniums, yellow butterflies, orange marigolds, and sky blue felicia.
God planted the first garden. In the Genesis 1 rendition of the story, we see God’s garden take shape in detail and in an orderly and planned way. God loved the result of his work. Six times we read the phrase “and it was good.” The seventh time, we read “and indeed, it was very good.”
Scripture is filled with garden imagery like planting, watering, nurturing and pruning. Sometimes the imagery of a garden is used to describe humanity (Isa. 58:11).
In Like a Garden, Juengst writes, “Seeds are being planted all the time, according to a great and wonderful design of which we catch only fleeting glimpses. We are all part of an enormous, complex, formal garden, whose pattern, as with most gardens, we see more clearly at completion than while it is still in the process of unfolding.”
The image of a garden is a rich one describing our relationship with each other as well as with the earth and our Creator. The church is always in the season of planning for tomorrow’s garden, but at this time perhaps even more intentionally so. “To garden is to take part in mystery,” Juengst writes. “To place seeds on the waiting earth, cover them with soil, moisten them, and wait in hope and expectation is a statement of faith.”
May God bless the planting we are doing today and give us both the joy and the faith as we wait for our garden to unfold.
Laura Loewen is a member-at-large on the general board of Mennonite Church Canada.