A Garden, Tended. (Part 1)
“Whether I’m withering or flourishing, let me remember it is You, Lord, the Head Gardener, who always nourishes and protects.”
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east in Eden.” ~ Genesis 2:8
I have always dreamed of having a small garden of my own someday. Nothing fancy, just a small section of my home filled with greenery of various kinds, shapes and sizes. The idea of tending to something and seeing it grow and bloom flowers, produce fruit and new seeds for new plants has always appealed to me. The picture of putting something on the table that actually resulted from your careful tending over weeks or months. Crushing herbs, some of which have been slowly drying and filling my home with the subtle scent of mint, oregano, lavender, basil, rosemary and so on.
Lately, I have been trying to glean what lessons I could possibly draw from the very acts of planting, growing, weeding, harvesting, watering, pruning, tending…all of which are words that can be found scattered in the pages of God’s Word. Maybe i’ve been hearing agriculture conversations and reading literature on where my work and farming meet, a bit too much lately. But it for sure has me reflecting a lot on the year 2020 was. I don’t know about you, but for me, 2020 was the kind of year that I could only describe by way of hindsight reflection. There was a lot encompassed in 12 months’ worth of experiences and seasons, that couldn’t be succinctly explained in-moment. Yet, as I look back, I feel those were some of my most defining months yet— the best that the Master Gardener could have designed for that year. It never fails to amaze me that God invited us to participate in the the joyful and tedious work that was last year. The sowing, the hoping, the weeding, the harvest, and the final feasts that came off it.
As I picture it, those gardening days in the future will be equally as defining. It’s out there in the garden, maybe, when the morning is still new, where I will whisper my prayers and griefs and questions. Mostly half-sentences whispers of “Lord, help” and “Father, teach me.” These meager words tumble as I pull out weeds, water flowers, spill my coffee on my blooming carrots. In the garden, I grow food for my family but in reality it’s where God is working on me. It’s when I ask questions like “Why did these two plants, both from the same seed packet, grow so differently? Why is one thriving and the other shriveling?” It’s where I learn to spot the difference between a weed and a long-desired germination.
A friend visits and points at a flower, “Is that a weed or a plant?”. It will probably come as no surprise to me that they don’t know. This isn’t their garden. They haven’t watched each seed grow, each plant turn towards the sun, pulled the ones that failed to thrive, tossed into the compost the ones eaten by pests, cried over the ones that seemed healthy but never produced fruit. I know this ground, these plants; these beds of green and flowers. And as i’m praying and pulling a weed that is growing so closely to a bean the next morning, it’s nearly indistinguishable, that it occurs to me the only person who knows what belongs and what doesn’t…is me.
The gardener who loves their garden can take the care to say what is taking up the wrong space, what is stealing nutrients, what is growing but definitely doesn’t belong. So each morning of this year, as I sip the last of my coffee, I hope to continually ask the Lord to do the tender work within me. He knows what doesn’t belong in this heart of mine. He knows the things that grow in me that only steal. His hands go near to the things that fruit and pull at the weed that threatens to steal all the good from the best, “…and pull while they’re young, Lord.” Because I know it’s so much easier to when they’ve just started to get above the earth, to pull at their small tender roots and remove them without hurting anything else.
And I think, what a privilege it is, to know the Master Gardener!
Only the gardener knows what really belongs and what doesn’t. Friends can ask. Other dirt-savvy people can suggest. But only the one who labors over the seed knows. The faithful hands of the Master Gardener are still working, dear friend. As we continue to explore this possible world of gardening, I hope we learn, over the seasons that this year brings, to trust the Lord’s tending.