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Wednesday's Whim

Wednesday’s Whim: Garden Lessons

It seems a little backwards to post about gardens today after Ashley posted about harvesting yesterday, but this one is less about food and more about theory/theology.

When I visit churches I always offer to preach, which I find to be a rewarding, thoughtful, humbling and stretching experience – both in the preparation and the delivery.  This weekend was no different.  The Old Testament reading was from Jeremiah 29, when Jeremiah tells the exiled people to sit tight and get comfortable:

“Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their fruit.”

Preaching on gardens?  What a gimme!

Between the two services I got to thinking and talking with others about the life lessons we can take away from gardens.  Here are a few:

  • Be present and notice what is around.  For gardens, this might be weather patterns or critters.  What is it for you that is going unnoticed?
  • Life is full of mystery and great unknowing.  Poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “Though he works and worries, the farmer never reaches down to where the seed turns into summer.  The earth grants.”
  • Community is integral.  Soil, water, seed, farmer, critter, mineral – all these things work together to produce wonderful and beautiful things!  What does your community look like?  Does it mindfully include the natural elements of life around you?
  • Healthy soil is the key to a garden’s success.  What is your soil?  What are you rooted in?
  • Sadness or suffering and death are necessary for reproduction – they are a beautiful piece of the cycle of life.  A tomato plant puts all its energy into producing the last of the tomatoes before drying up, beautiful fruit still on the vine; a daffodil must die completely before being cut back if it is going to bloom again next year.  How are you like the tomato plant?  Or, what role has sadness, suffering and death played in your life?*
  • And finally, more from the Gospel reading than the Jeremiah passage, but it is in both places, arguably: BE GRATEFUL, show gratitude to the land, the chickens, the ecosystem, one another, and to God!  (See Luke 17: 11-19)

“The whole creation depends on food.  But the unique position of humanity in the universe is that we alone are to bless God for the food and the life we receive from God.  We alone are to respond to God’s blessing with our blessing.” Alexander Schmemann (Eastern Orthodox theologian) **

*A theological disclaimer that may send me down a rabbit hole.  I don’t for one second believe that God makes sadness, suffering and death happen in our lives, or that it exists purely to teach us lessons.  Instead, I believe it to be a natural part of life – one that feels impossible some days, but natural and beautiful others.

**Sorry to my Anglo-Catholic or purist friends, but I gender-neutralized the quote!

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Whim: “sudden idea.”  This weekly-ish post promises a number of things: personal thoughts and reflections, showing off Camp Stevens’ programs and staff, announcements for upcoming opportunities, and answering questions or responding to comments “from the audience.” If you have a topic or question you’d like addressed, just e-mail Beth!

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