To Garden With God: An Earth Day Prayer


squirrel eating red hot pokers

squirrel eating red hot pokers

God bless the earth and all that lives within it

God bless the earth and all that lives on it

God bless the earth and all that lives above it

God bless the soil on which we live and work and make community.

In your mercy may it bring forth goodness to nourish and renew the whole community who share it

(The last 2 lines of this this prayer are adapted from a prayer by Ray Simpson) 

Tomorrow is Earth Day and though I have not had much to say about it (or about anything else in the last week) it is a day that I think we should celebrate with enthusiasm.  God who created and sustains all life loves this world and all of creation with a deep and abiding love.

This is not far from my mind particularly as I work on my book of garden reflections and garden advice: To Garden with God in preparation for the seminar The Spirituality of Gardening that I am conducting this weekend.  I am hoping that we will have this available next week as a pdf download.  This seminar is proving to be so popular that we will be holding a second May 30th and I am starting to get enquiries about conducting one elsewhere too.  

Working on this book of reflections has been a really fun project even though it has added more pressure to my life than I like.  Over the years I have thought a lot about where and when I encounter God in the garden but it is really only as I sat down to reflect on this that I started to become excited.  And much of this has been because some of you have encouraged me to start writing more on this topic.

First I am intrigued by how much of what I do in the garden is a metaphor for my life and what God is doing in my life – from the planting of seeds to the producing of compost the garden is an incredible assurance of the faithfulness of a loving, caring God who is intimately involved in all we are and do.  

There is another dimension however that I am just starting to discover what orthodox Christians have known for centuries –  the sacramental nature of gardening.  In his delightful little book Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening, Vigen Guroian shares his own reflections as an Armenian orthodox Christian.  As I read his book I wondered how differently would we view God’s creation and our faith if each time we planted a seed we entered into an experience of the death and resurrection of Christ.  And what about if we saw the watering of the garden as a partaking in the baptism of Christ after all each time we water it does bring new life to the plants we are tending.  

The Bible uses so many garden and farming metaphors – from the parable of the sower and the separating of the tares and the wheat to the imagery of the harvest.  We are all impacted by these but rarely understand their significance.  So this earth day maybe all of us need to enter more fully into the story of God as it is revealed in the created world around us.  Why not meditate on this verse from Isaiah 45:8 as a start.  

You heavens above rain down my righteousness

let the clouds shower it down.

Let the earth open wide,

let salvation spring up

let righteousness floruish with it;

I the Lord have created it.