the theology of the garden… and gardening

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ (Genesis 3:8-9).

hauling timber in the late afternoon sun

WORK: Sometimes, sitting in front of a computer and mulling over words and such in my head, I so thoroughly disengage myself from the world around me that I find I have nothing useful to say.

That’s why, once in a while, it’s good to spend a few hours digging in the garden, planting, hauling dirt, lugging huge bags of cow manure, balancing large pieces of timber on my shoulder, and then running to Lowes and back for more.

We have a garden that’s probably too big and complex now for two 50-somethings with questionable backs and too many other commitments to allow enough time to play in the dirt. But Rebekah really does love her plants and there sure is a lot of good theology out there in the vegetation and the soil.

a beautiful day for gardening

RESTORATION: This weekend is all about re-landscaping a couple of the large, rambling bedding areas in the back garden. We have beds that insist on producing thick, healthy grass; then we have adjacent areas of “lawn” where grass flatly refuses to grow. So we’re not going to fight it any more; the new design will simply follow the lines of least resistance.

Hence the multiple bags of good soil and cow manure. Thanks to the demise of the wheelbarrow I got a great workout via hauling instead of wheeling.

back for more!

But later – when it’s time to come inside, jump in the shower and then cook supper – it just feels good to be dog-tired, bone-weary and grimy-dirty. I’m not saying I’m not still thinking about a condo with a patio and a container-garden, it’s just that there’s still a lot of nourishment in the soil, and I understand – on a foundational level – that gardening is good for the soul.

PILGRIM in PROGRESS: I talk a lot about Garden Theology in The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian (Upper Room Books, 2008). It’s the idea that we all own an innate yearning to return to The Garden of Eden, in one way or another; not by going backwards, but via our faith-directed pilgrimage of moving forward in Jesus:

In a sense pilgrimage is an experience designed to take humankind full circle. Because, if this pathway is to lead us any place at all, then that place is the garden. (p. 11)

But still, pushing to the surface like insistent growth on a hopeful spring morning, my promise to follow Jesus finds its way, often one tentative footfall at a time. But it’s progress all the same and I know where I’m going; finding my way full circle; onward back to the garden. (p. 142)

Peace on the journey – DEREK

Rebekah, working on her Garden Theology

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