I’ve never had to be the gardener before. Sure, I’ve laboured in a garden before, but at other people’s instruction and in their garden. When the lockdown came into effect, I was in a house with some desk work to do and to help pack parcels for MICAH once a week, but not too much else. So I turned to the garden. I hadn’t done much out there at all as general busyness and the autumn and winter weather had me otherwise occupied and not wanting to go outside. Spring was springing, however, and the garden needed to spring with it.
I’ve recently posted pictures of the backyard we have at the Tsedaqah House. It’s small but lovely, with flowering shrubs and nice furniture helping to make it a great space to soak up some sun, read a book, or enjoy a quiet evening outside. I love spending time in a garden, as the saying says, “One is nearer God’s heart in a garden more than anywhere else on earth.”
An unexpected project (besides rearranging the outdoor furniture and flower pots which I’ve loved doing since age five as my mother will tell you) became transplanting and caring for a few of the (previously planted?) Forget-Me-Nots beneath one of the shrubs. I really needed to mow the lawn, but these tiny blue flowers had spread into the grass, and I didn’t want to just mow them down, so I decided to transplant them to some window boxes on the patio and hoped for the best.
It’s no accident that the beginning of the relationship between divinity and humanity took place in a garden, according to our inherited Scriptural narrative. God, the Divine Gardener, has us in his care and gives us what we need to flourish in that care, and we commit to continuing in that life-giving relationship.
Very important: being a disciple is a process, and it takes time.
The Forget-Me-Nots have been pretty easy keepers, but I have had to make sure they were in just the right spot on the patio to get just the right amount of sun, and that I watered them when the rain hadn’t taken care of that for me. I needed (and need!) to continuously tend the garden with whose care I have been entrusted.
Our Divine Gardener takes the same care of us (though certainly knows more about us than I do about plants!). Our responsibility is to soak up the nourishment and produce fruit to God’s glory, and this takes time, too. We glorify God in our big and small growth, patiently working and incrementally growing until we finally meet Christ in eternity. We ought to rejoice in our process-selves here in the earthly garden, enjoying what God has wrought and is working within us.
I’m naturally someone for whom longer projects are a “growing edge.” I like getting things done quickly and sometimes find activities whose ends I cannot see at their beginnings difficult. During the lockdown, I’m learning to live with the uncertain and the unfinished. I am learning to remember to tend my garden, and more importantly to let God tend God’s. I am learning to pay closer attention to each step in the process. And I am remembering to trust Christ more, who knows all things and has the whole world in His hands.
Thanks for reading this update on my missionary blog! I’m a missionary of The Episcopal Church, serving in Liverpool, UK. Make sure to subscribe at the bottom of the home page to get an email when I next post an update. God bless, and thank you!
Eager to read more? Check out the “Meet the YASCers” page of the website of the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) of the Episcopal Church to find the blogs of my missionary colleagues: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/YASC/meet-yascers.