Throughout Spring 2020, I was too concerned about COVID and my health to walk into the local gardening center. I ached for the day when I could roam the crowded and too narrow aisles once more. Never again would I complain about the long lines. And when I finally did go in for my Spring shopping spree a few months ago, I didn’t have a single thought of discontent. Though no one could tell, I was smiling behind my mask as I swiped my card through the machine because I purchased more items than were on my list, as usual.
Gardening is my special pleasure.
There could be no food in the refrigerator, a toilet that needs scrubbing, six loads of dirty laundry, taxes to be filed, 115 emails, and 216 text messages, and I’ll be thinking, “Just a few more minutes of gardening.” Then, six hours later, I go into the house, exhausted, and tell myself that I’ll get to those chores later. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t.
What matters is that I feel good after my recreation. Energized. Relaxed. Tired but happy. Filthy dirty. Spatters of soil on my t-shirt and jeans, burrs in my hair and mud in my shoes, and wounds on fingers from misguided shears.
And I bring in the thoughts I had about God and his creative wonders that will never be outdone or undone.
I place a seed under a half-inch of soil, add water, and let the sunshine in. The seed splits and lets out its green growth after days of forced patience. What is my thought? “God allowed me to participate in a miracle.”
That’s what gardening is for me.
And, oh, the wonder of it all as I begin to compare my life to a seed in the hand of God. There I am, covered in dirt for a while as the Master Gardener sets the right time, the best conditions, the perfect growth plan for me.
Earlier this week, I pulled a cosmos plant from its spot in a flower bed. A gopher had found itself in a nearby trap, and I had to remove the cosmos to retrieve the critter. I whispered “I’m sorry” to the cosmos as I left it in a plastic tray until the dirty work was done. Its roots were out of the soil, packed into a cell that could no longer contain it, exposed to an environment that could not sustain it — full of discomfort and probably asking, “Why?”
So it goes for a time when God has a hard work to do in my life. I don’t like it, I feel removed, and I have questions. In the end, though, God’s work always turns out for his glory and my good.
Today, the cosmos plant is back in its spot and thriving.
In the garden, I learn a lesson or see an example of God’s love, care, or greatness. I look down at the innumerable insects and bugs living in the dirt. I look up to see soaring hawks and cooing doves. I look around: Roses protected by thorns. Wildflowers that simply show up each year. Bees, lizards, weeds, and stones. All of it points to an awesome, powerful, and creative God who saw fit to make a garden the first living space for man and woman.
In the garden, I see my Lord Jesus. “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:2).” I think about what gardens will look like in heaven, a place I will live one day because of my faith in him.
In the garden, I imagine God watching me. I wonder if he is pleased with the plant arrangements and the colors. I wonder if he is pleased with me.
Then, I see the tiny leaves of something I’ve planted breaking through the soil, and I am reminded of when I was a seed in his hand. I recall the words, the people, the good times, the terrible times, and the Savior that he used to take me from being covered in dirt to becoming his child.
The garden is a gift.