Spring is here – at least in the Northern Hemisphere and it makes me realize how important it is to connect the rhythm of our faith to the rhythm of God’s world. It was only when I sent Easter in the Northern Hemisphere for the first time that the wonder of the resurrection burst upon me. And even now I am awed by the blossoming of God’s world in a way that assures me resurrection really has happened and God’s new world has begun.
At lunch today I will once again be speaking on Spirituality and Gardening. The increasing popularity of this topic makes me realize how much others crave the same kind of connections between their faith and the world around them. As I always say in these seminars: In the Bible I read about the death and resurrection of Christ, in the garden I experience it. In the Bible I read about the abundance of God’s provision, in the garden I experience. The story of God is constantly being lived out God’s world, affirming who God is and who God intends us to be.
Like me many urban dwellers have discovered the joys of vegetable gardening in the last few years and in the process have grown in their intimacy with God. Hopefully, they start small and then as their taste buds explode with the delight of vegetables straight from the garden something strange happens and they become obsessive about converting their lawn into edible vegetation. There is nothing quite like the wonderful sweet flavour of tomatoes picked straight from the vine or of corn that has gone straight from plant to the pot. And to experience the delight of leeks and carrots that have been dragged out of the frosty ground is out of this world.
Why has it taken us so long to discover what people in most other parts of the world have always known – store bought food just doesn’t taste real even when it is organic and “picked from the vine”. Even a friend of ours who is a well known celebrity chef has just discovered in his 70s that food grown in your own backyard is better than any restaurant gourmet meal.
There are many other benefits to growing your own food too. Working in the garden gets us outside into God’s good creation. As I mentioned in a previous post on nature deficit disorder, I don’t think that we realize the consequences to our health – both physical and spiritual of lives that are spent inside under artificial light. Insomina, depression, and of course obesity are all linked to sedentary indoor lives. A growing number of people are talking about nature deficit disorder. Kids in particular suffer from nature deficit disorder and as I talk about in this post: attention deficit disorder can be alleviated by encouraging kids to spend more time outdoors.
Other studies suggest that just looking at nature can improve our health and reduce the time it takes us to recover from surgery. So imagine what a difference a whole afternoon outside can do.
Getting our kids involved in the garden can have even more benefits. In her article Go Outside and Play: Four Reasons Why Exposure to Nature is Essential To a Child’s Wellbeing, Suzy DeYoung talks about the amazing health benefits of getting kids outside. According to the EPA indoor air pollution is the US’s number one environmental health concern. They encourage kids to get outside and play but I think that working in the garden can be even more beneficial.
There is also evidence that spending time outside in nature stimulates our creativity and imagination. And gardening certainly adds to that creativity – because once we have produced all that food we need to work out what to do with it which means that we become more creative in our cooking and our preserving of food too. At least that has been my experience.