Monday, June 25, 2012

gardening as a spiritual experience

when we moved into this house, the gardens were pretty barren.  since then, i have been slowly chipping away at making them more beautiful and productive.  this year i have had the opportunity to put a lot more time towards my garden, both veggies and flowers.  there is plenty of time to think while gardening, and my experiences thus far have really helped me to reflect on and understand God and the bible better.

'Garden flower' photo (c) 2006, Tim Wilson - license:

the promised land.  when the israelites finally got into the promised land, they entered a place where the agriculture was already established.  they could start eating the fruit of other people's labor as soon as they entered.

when we moved in, there was already an herb garden established and a lemon tree.  i have been so thankful for these two things, and they have been the most consistently producing part of our yard since they were established years before we moved in.  i can imagine how much more of a blessing it would be to move it somewhere that had enough food for your whole family every day, every meal.  this was a true blessing and work of God.

patience.  in a world where you can microwave leftovers in under two minutes, order a pizza and have it to your house in an hour, and go to the grocery store at midnight and buy any kind of food you want year round, the thought of waiting for food is rarely thought of (besides waiting impatiently for the server to come back with your order).

gardening requires real patience.  i started working on my veggie garden in january.  i finally have some green tomatoes and i hope that by the beginning of july they will be ripe.  that is a long wait!

my flower gardens have also been a labor of patience: we moved in two years ago, and they are only just barely starting to look ok (this is partially because i am trying to spend as little money as possible on the garden, and so i have to wait until people offer me plants from their yard to put in our garden).  this week i got some irises and lilies from freecycle.  i was very happy to get these plants (especially because they are perennials) but sad to realize they probably wont even start flowering until next year!  ah, patience...

trust in God.  thinking about the bible through the perspective of someone from an agrarian society gives it a whole new dimension.  we are fortunate to be in a position where we do not absolutely depend on the produce from our garden: if it doesn't produce well, we can just go to the store to buy whatever we need.

but it would take an immense amount of trust in God to live in a society where you have to grow all of your own food all the time.  it would be especially difficult to follow his law when he says to leave behind the extra produce for the poor, and to allow traveling people to eat from your fields, and to cease from all work one day of every seven.  the daily dependence on God would go very deep.

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