Saturday, March 15, 2008

Meditations on Gardening

Selections From "Inheriting Paradise" by Vigen Guroian

When the Earth is still damp and cold with melted snow, I kneel at the edge of the perennial bed beseeching the first green blades of crocuses and daffodils to grow. Spring has come slowly .. but there's work to be done.

The vegetable garden needs to be turned and smoothed. The straw blanket that covers the perennial bed should be removed and the remaining old growth cut down. For the gardener the first signs of spring are an irresistible invitation to make the earth a paradise once more.

Gardening and the spiritual life are very much alike. Every experienced Christian gardener knows that there is a spiritual spring which comes just as surely as nature's spring. The Lenten spring is God's invitation to prayer, fasting, and penance. Like the deep-rooted thistle weed, some of our worst habits withstand all but the most persistent, persevering, and strenuous exercise.

I have built a fence around my vegetable garden to keep out the deer and the rabbits. I am the old Adam and a son of Noah whom the beasts of the field fear (Gen. 9:2) and with whom I compete for the fruit of the earth.

My garden is not the walled garden of the new Eden that exuberantly holds every living and breathing thing. The fence that keeps the creatures of the field out of my garden is a reminder instead of my exile and alienation from Paradise.

All of nature suffers for this: the whole creation is covered with the dark mystery of the knowledge of good and evil and aches with an eager longing for light and life (Romans 8:19-23).

Gardening teaches us that we belong to nature and are also responsible for it. Human culture and nature's destiny are inextricably intertwined. What we add to nature can contribute to its well-being as well as our own.

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