So far this summer, I have not spent as much time in the back yard as I usually do or would like to do. But yesterday evening, Mark called out “Have you seen the garden lately?” Putting down the dish towel and slipping on my sandals, I headed out the door and traversed the yard to the garden.
I was amazed at what I saw. Sweet corn already waist high. A forest of basil plants with deep fleshy green leaves. Stately tomato plants tied up tall. Cucumbers filling in its patch of dirt with big blooms. And there was Mark in the midst of it all, hoe in hand, sweaty and dirty but clearly delighted!
When did all that growth happen? When did seed turn into plant and how is it that those plants are already offering their bounty with such generosity?
Before the mosquitos drove him in, I asked if Mark would harvest a basket of basil leaves for me to turn into pesto. As I washed them, I was filled with gratitude. Not wanting to leave one leaf behind after so much effort to grow, I carefully picked out the strays from the strainer. The pungent smell of basil wedded with garlic filled the kitchen. It was heavenly.
There is a woodcut that hangs in our house. It pictures a garden on a hillside. Beside the picture there are words attributed to Marina Schinz that read “To create a garden is to search for a better world… Hope for the future is at the heart of all gardening.”
Those words got me thinking about church. We often refer to church as “the body of Christ.” Or we think of it like an ark carrying us in the stormy seas of our time. Or as a flock, following our shepherd through green pastures and alongside still waters. But how about church as a garden?
Are we not the seed, small and quiet germinating? Are we not the fleshy basil leaves ready to be turned into something that serves? Are we not the leggy tomato plants that need a bit of support, but are ready to give all we’ve got? As I take a look out over our life together as church I marvel at the growth and how in so many ways you are offering your bounty to the world with such beauty and generosity. Could it be said that to create church is to search for a better world… Hope for the future is at the heart of what it is to be church?” I think so!
And here’s a final thought. I may not have spent much time in our back yard this summer, but I realize I have been spending quite a bit of time gardening. We all have, in fact. As people of faith, if we are one thing, we are gardeners. We are sowers of hope, seeders of the future, believers in the potential that lies dormant in the tiniest, most fragile of seeds. That is why you will find us, out there hoe in hand, loving and tending and pulling weeds. That is why we are out there watering and tying up new shoots with shreds of faded beach towels.
To create a garden is to search for a better world… Hope for the future is at the heart of all gardening.” Amen!