“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” —John 15:1
When the cold, winter winds finally give way to the gentle warmth of spring, you’ll find me in my flower garden. I clean out my perennial beds, haul out all the garden chatskies, give the emerging plants a healthy dose of fertilizer, and then I wait for the show to begin. I’ve seen it all before. Every year, the garden explodes with fragrance and color, but I never find it ordinary. In fact, I can’t stop looking at it. I’m always in awe that something so beautiful emerges from dirt that just a few weeks before was frozen and bare.
The French impressionist Claude Monet said, “Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” I understand. I’m passionate about color, too. I’m obsessed with planting bulbs in just the right spots to create the best color combinations. The bright colors of a spring garden energize me. I find joy in a sea of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils, and I relish the blossoms of yellow forsythia, purple lilacs, and shell pink magnolias. The torment comes when the vivid petals fall from the stems, and I can’t do anything to stop it. To soothe my disappointment, I plant pots filled with orange zinnias, bright blue lobelia, cherry-red petunias, and yellow marigolds. I hang baskets of impatiens in shady spots and plant gerbera daisies. For good measure, I sow sunflower seeds along the old, wood fence. Then, I stand back and admire my work, assured that I will have colorful blooms until the first autumn frost.
As the days grow long, my summer garden takes center stage. The tendrils of clematis and morning glory vines wind around trellises and trees. Rose buds unfurl, filling the air with spicy perfume. Daylilies grow into thick, round clumps, their foliage spilling to the earth like water from a fountain.
My gardening tasks turn to weeding and deadheading. As I kneel on the ground, combing the dirt with my garden rake, I notice the finely textured fronds of threadleaf coreopsis, the shiny green leaves of a miniature holly bush, and the large, ribbed foliage of blue-green hostas. When I look more closely, I discover Scotch moss and wooly thyme creeping among the garden stones, and I find tiny buds on the sedum plants that grow beneath the Hinoki false cypress. My mind drifts toward God. I think about the Garden of Eden, and I imagine God, the Great Creator, choosing the colors, placing each plant in the spot most pleasing to His eyes. How beautiful it must have been! God stood back and admired His creation, and He was pleased. The Bible tells us so in Genesis 1:31, “(He) saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” In other words, it was perfect. As my thoughts return to my own garden, I realize that the flowers and foliage I see are just a dim reflection of Eden.
Eden was beautiful beyond compare, but we are even lovelier to the Creator. He made us in His own image as His best work. If we let Him, He will be the gardener of our souls. He will pluck out any weeds that have taken root and create a new garden within us, one that won’t die at the first autumn frost and one filled with vibrant blooms from now until eternity.
I believe that gardening connects us with the heart of God. As we plant, prune, weed, and fertilize, we can imagine Him tending to us in a similar way, sowing the seeds of His kingdom and providing us with all that we need to make them grow.
At the front of my perennial bed is one of my favorite things. It’s a small, iron garden plaque that belonged to my mother. On the black background etched in white are the words:
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
Whether you garden or not, take a few minutes to reflect on the wonders of Eden. Allow God to become the gardener of your soul. When you reap what He sows, you will be blessed with new hope and everlasting life.
Heavenly Father, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Draw me near to your heart. Create in me a new work. Sow the seeds of your kingdom within me, and allow them to grow.