This post is prompted by a number of things. First this is the week in Lent when I am focusing my thoughts (and hopefully my actions) on God’s concern for creation and grappling with my own complicity in the pollution that fills our planet. But there is more to it than that. I am excited by the fact that a growing number of churches seem to be responding to the current economic recession by converting their green lawns into vegetable gardens. Even Michelle Obama is planting an organic vegetable garden at the White House
I am particularly excited by what Stephen Bartlett is doing in Louisville Kentucky. Like me he has a passion to help people discover not jsut the joy of gardening but also the wonderful lessons that we have to learn about our awesome God in the midst of the garden.
Soil is miraculous,” he says. “The amount of thriving life and myriad interactions between the life in just one handful of soil is beyond the human capacity to understand. Read the entire article here
I find Stephen’s approach refreshing because I believe that this current trend for vegetable gardens will not survive beyond the current crisis unless we develop a theology that not only recognizes God as the master gardener but that encourages us to learn about God from our gardens and connect to God through our gardening.
In Genesis God does not place humankind in a wilderness, God places them in a garden and then walks together them in that garden every day. As I have mentioned before Celtic Christians believed that creation was translucent – the glory of God shone through it, and monasteries first planted gardens in an attempt to recapture something of the garden of Eden. The garden is alive with lessons about God’s love and faithfulness and generosity. How easily we take for granted the rhythms of the seasons that sustain and nourish all of life and rarely give a word of thanks to the God who has ordained these patterns.
I started gardening because Tom and I wanted to produce some of our own vegetables, and in Seattle a garden is not quite a garden without a couple of tomato plants. However my passion for gardening has grown as I started to unearth the many lessons to be learned from the garden and began to discover the glory of God revealed through the all that I was doing.
On April 25th I will hold my first Spirituality of Gardening seminar. I am excited about the potential of this particular seminar to help people reconnect to God in new ways just as I have. As I have mentioned before
I read about the resurrection in the Bible, I experience it every time I plant a seed and watch it burst into new life. I read about God’s generosity but I experience it every summer when the garden overwhelms me with 200 lbs of tomatoes. And I believe that God wants us to live sustainably but I am convinced of it when I pull a 100 lb of squash from my plants and there is no hole in the soil to show where it has grown from. God’s methods of production are all sustainable and renewable.
Gardening teaches us to live in more relaxed and sustaining way. It connects us to the very heart of God our creator and also to the ways of Christ our redeemer who is constantly planting, pruning, fertilizing and growing our lives into the ways of the kingdom.
This does not mean that everyone needs to become a gardener, but i do think it means that all of us need to take the time to reconnect to the God revealed through creation. In the midst I think that many of us will discover new depths to the love of God that we never knew existed.