The Importance of Gardens

IMG_2237 white pink dahlia corner ch

When my grandfather retired he became the gardener for the property he and Grandma and my parents shared.  This was a good arrangement until the signs of early dementia cropped up. The problem was that Grandpa was a farmer at heart, and not a gardener. As recent memories turned into dust in the wind, he returned to old painful memories and began to see mother’s flowers as weeds that competed for resources with the precious grain crops he fought so hard to grow during the dusty 30’s in Saskatchewan. Before Mom’s prize dahlias had a chance to bloom he hacked them down with his hoe.

Mother was not pleased. She was a farm girl too, and admired waves of wheat in an open field, and vegetable patches dripping with peas and beans as much as anyone, but she also appreciated “impractical”  flower gardens that produced nothing more than visual pleasure.

When there is not enough to go around, survival comes first. The problem is that many of us return to familiar barrenness of past pain, and live our lives in fear of want, as if God is on a budget and there is not enough to go around. Without new memories our relationship with him can be one based merely on survival (what do I need to do to be saved?) and neglect appreciation of his beauty and abundance. Francis Frangipane wrote:

Indeed, Jesus frequently drew revelation about the Father from the observable world around Him. He told His disciples to “consider the lilies” (Luke 12:27) and spoke of God’s love and care, even for the sparrows (v. 6). He saw miracles of life contained within the power of a simple seed, and He made this revelation a centerpiece of His teaching (Matt. 13).

Indeed, many of the Lord’s greatest sermons were presented, not in the temple or behind the pulpit of a local synagogue, but in the cathedral of creation, at lakesides and hilltops.

We think of Gethsemane as the place where Jesus sweat blood in prayer, and so it was. But Gethsemane was a garden, and the Bible tells us that Jesus “often met there with His disciples”(John 18:2). I love the fact that the Lord routinely found joy among flowers and landscaping, and that He “often” brought His disciples there to teach them.

Yet not only was the setting of a garden a familiar place for Jesus while He was alive, but even in death His tomb was set in the midst of a garden (John 19:41). In fact, when He rose from the dead, a distressed Mary thought Him to be the gardener (John 20:15).

Jesus obviously saw the creation as an echo of the Father’s heart. He found in nature a place, a quiet place, to seek and find communion with God. Beloved don’t deny yourself this exquisite pleasure.”

There is more beauty, so much more beauty, in Jesus Christ than we yet know.

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