These are the days of spring when I can hardly stand to remain inside. All I want to do is garden. I want to feel the sun and touch the earth. I want to watch the new buds breaking through day by day. This year is particularly exciting because the church is creating a new garden. It was initiated by a church member who is moving into a condo just a couple of blocks from the church and will no longer have her own yard in which to garden. Therefore she has stirred the interest of others and we are beginning a church garden that we hope will grow into a place of peace and joy for this inner city community. Jan has planted the seeds of her love of gardening and now we are going to nurture them and see what grows. She recently commented on the joy of seeing people plant bulbs back in the fall. Some had never planted a bulb in their lives and are now seeing their flowers emerge from the earth.
The church is located on a main city street which carries heavy traffic — cars and buses and bicycles and pedestrians. People walking by have commented on what is coming up in the garden, and on the work of the gardeners. We want them to enjoy what God is doing in this place and to feel welcome to become a part of it.
At exactly this time last year, we were on sabbatical in the U.K. and while in London, visited the Museum of Garden History which is located in an old church building on the Thames. There was something profoundly fitting about an old church building and grounds now devoted to the history of gardening; recognizing the traditions and forms of gardens, the precious and sacred act of caring for the earth, nurturing plants, and working intimately with God to create places of beauty and peace.
Surely in the garden, we learn something of God’s creativity and patience. Earlier this spring, I was itching to plant a new Wisteria (yes, a bit too early). The last freeze came after I had planted it, and everything ‘got bit’, including the already leafing out Wisteria. I watched and waited. Over the weeks since the freeze, everything else had come back, except the Wisteria. It simply looked dead. I said I would wait another week, but nothing. I scratched it and where I had scratched and found green before, it now appeared brown and brittle. I continued to water it. There were warm days. Still, nothing. I finally decided it was gone and began thinking about what I would plant in its place. Still I could not bring myself to dig it up. I would just stand and look at it, searching for any sign. Then yesterday, I looked and there were green sprouts just breaking through the brown dead-looking branches. I almost cried and was so relieved that I had not completely given up and jerked it out the ground.
Hmmm … waiting … patience … God’s creativity … God’s time …
ministry … people … patience … Thanks be to God!