last night I conducted my first ever Spirituality of Gardening seminar here in Australia and this morning shared with the students at the World View Institute. Afterwards the students went out to spend half an hour wandering the gardens, reflecting on the lessons that God was teaching them. Many came back with deep insights about the relationships between their lives, faith and gardening or between church planting which most of them are training for and gardening.
One of the participants at the evening session was a landscape gardener which was a little intimidating at first. However he was a font of knowledge about local conditions and techniques that were very helpful. I mentioned about the baggies we put on the apples last year to prevent apple maggots and he said that nasturtiums hung in baskets or growing around the apple trees should have the same impact so I hope that we will be able to try that next year.
it amazed me to see how many varied insights people could get from the garden – One student was fascinated by the tripartite clover leaf which reminded them of the triune nature of God the Trinity.
Another talked about the bees which pollinate the flowers bringing new life to the next generation of plants. It made them think of the role of missionaries in pollinating and bringing new life to those with whom they worked.
Another student took photos of the spiders, ants and beetles in the garden – what I call God’s prophets because they are actually the best best control around yet we spend so much time trying to kill them – just like the Israelites tended to do with the OT prophets.
This opportunity has convinced me more than ever that all of us need to make connections between our faith and the created world. Gardening is the oldest profession mentioned in the Bible – (not prostitution as some seem to think). In fact the first act of God after the completion of creation was to plant a garden, a garden which Adam and Eve were commanded to cultivate. Amazingly we then read that God walked in the garden in the cool of the evening.
Some of you may think that this is a little heretical but I think that part of what it means to be made in the image of God is to become a gardener – to tend and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.
So many of Jesus’ parables revolved around the garden. We often dismiss these and say that we need new metaphors because we no longer live in an agricultural society. But in so doing I think that we disconnect from a large part of who God is and who God has made us to be.
Developing community gardens is not enough. We must also rediscover the intimate connections between gardening and our faith. In the process I suspect that we will also transform our lives into a pattern that is far more like that practiced in the kingdom of God.
What do you think?