Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:1-2
This week Rebekah and are are starting to get organized for the spring. She replanted the herb garden for my kitchen, we’ve been weeding like crazy, and then we put in a couple of trees.
Trees? you may well ask? Don’t you already have more than enough trees?
Personally, I’m not sure a garden can have too many trees. But it’s not like we’re putting in extra pines; we have enough of those. Instead, we’re continuing to work on our absolute favorite, the Japenese Maple. We have seven now, several of them have taken off nicely over the past few years, and they are beginning to make their presence known as architectural features.
The tree Rebekah is standing with needed a fairly big hole. So I took after the hard clay with a number of different shovels and my back is paying for it today. But we didn’t just dig a hole and drop in a tree. Instead, it requires loosening the soil at a much greater circumference, amending the soil that’s already there, including fertilizer, adding just the right mix of nutrients, filling in again carefully, building a well, and watering too.
What I like most about our garden is the variety. Azalea, dogwood, maple, tulips, daffodils, nandina, hydrangea, hosta, lenten rose, daylilies, plus a bunch of stuff I can’t even remember. Uniformity can make a dramatic impact, but it’s one dimensional, limited, lacking in imagination, and artificial. It’s diversity that makes the garden alive and real.
It’s a lot like the body of Christ:
The garden kind of reminds me of our church. We don’t have uniformity but we do enjoy unity; worshippers don’t think, believe, and act in lockstep, but stand as a body of believers presenting a hybrid witness to redemption and grace; in many ways, we are all over the place – but we’re growing in the same garden.
We are alive, and creative, and well rooted in good soil; we have our faces turned toward the light and we are planted by the water. And, just like the garden at Maul-Hall, the saints who worship at WFPC are most definitely a collection of “works in progress.”
I’ve gone down this road before, but the concept is worth repeating: If you are not comforted by easy answers, if you are put off by cookie-cutter faith, if thinking in lockstep compromises your spiritual integrity, if you don’t want your challenging questions dismissed out of hand, and if you suspect God more is expansive than the narrow unimaginative deity people are often fed in prepackaged junk-food servings at so many settings… then consider yourself invited to take root in a garden that’s considerably messy yet beautifully real.
Thinking out loud while my back tries to stop seizing – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.