It’s Spring — the time of year my beloved replants her vegetable garden. I watch her come alive as she digs, mixes, composts, plants and waters. Our garden is small by all comparisons. A city balcony is not the place for breadth, but she persists and with the most wonderful results.
I remember, some years back, reading Robert Banks’ beautiful description of God as gardener and being taken with this image of the Divine — digging, weeding, nurturing, gathering fruit and flowers. More recently, reading Norman Wirzba’s Food and Faith, I was impressed again with the possibilities of the sacred in the work of gardeners. Here’s part of what he says:
To garden effectively is to bring human living into close alignment with the life going on in the garden. It requires us to know a particular plot of land and understand its potential, and then work harmoniously with it. To garden is to unseat oneself as the center of primary importance and to instead turn one’s life into various forms of service …. It is to give up the much-trumpeted goal of modern and postmodern life — individual autonomy — and instead live the life of care and responsible interdependence. This is what the biblical command to “till and keep” the garden means. When we garden well, devoting ourselves to the strengthening of the memberships of creation, personal ego and ambition gradually recede from the lines of sight so that the blessings and glory of God can shine through what we see. When we serve a garden well by learning to calibrate our schedules and desires to complement gardening realities, life has a chance to thrive and smell and taste really good.
Norman Wirzba, Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Cambridge University Press, 2011, 51.