“Be a Good Gardener”
Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch
toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor.
And make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits to spring
Take this food and drink
And carry it to God
As your true worship.
-Julian of Norwich-
The medieval mystic Julian of Norwich describes the gardener’s life as a true worshiper in her poem. She sings of the gardener’s labor and effort to get fruits, and the gardener’s true worship through gardening. I am not a gardener, but I am enjoying gardening. I guess that you have probably experienced gardening at some point in your life. Through gardening, I learned about precious life and nature’s provision in God’s grace. Gardening is a means of grace for me to connect with God. Through gardening, I experience the purification of my spirit. And, I experience rest and healing through gardening. Perhaps, we all are gardeners for our spirit and mind. To grow in faith well by the Holy Spirit, we probably should give good care to our soul and mind as a gardener gives the plants good care.
When I moved to Wisconsin from Chicago, Illinois, I brought plants. Some of them are outdoor plants. I planted them around the parsonage. But, we had snow earlier last winter than I expected. I took one of the plants (wild sesame) inside the house and planted it in a small flowerpot to get the seeds before it died. Finally, I was able to get the seeds. In spring this year, I made a gardening spot and planted the seeds in that spot. And I watered them every morning and evening. I found a lot of sprouts on that spot about two weeks later. How amazing!
It is a mystery how the seeds become the plants. A small seed has life even though we cannot see it. The seeds seem to die, but when the seeds meet soil, water, and sunshine, life finally manifests into the world through the plants. To sustain the plant’s life, we should provide water when needed, and God delivers sunshine. Not only that, but we also have to protect the plants from weeds and wild animals. Even though a gardener works hard like “toil and sweat,” if God does not provide sunshine, the plants would not grow well, and although God may offer sunshine, if we do not work for a weed-free environment and water them, the plants will not grow well. Therefore, to sustain the plants’ life, the plants need God’s grace and human labor.
Like that, we may be a gardener in our own life. We should work hard to sustain our lives, provide good food and good care physically, spiritually, and emotionally the same way we provide good soil and water to our plants. Besides, we have to protect our souls, minds, and spirits from harmful environments the same way we try to make weed-free environments in our garden and protect our plants from wild animals. During gardening, I realized that if I skip watering my plants or do not look after my plants for one or two days, wild animals pick my plants off or disturb my garden. It affects me emotionally and spiritually. So, I try to give proper care to my plants every day because it is the way to keep my mind and emotions healthy.
I encourage you to be spiritual gardeners who may “toil and sweat” to keep your souls and minds healthy. And, you may protect your soul and mind from bad thoughts and a negative mindset. You may take your soul and mind to God as a gardener carries the fruits to God for true worship. And, God may provide you grace at all times.
The apostle Paul saying, “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attending to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13). As he says, we are perhaps still immature, which needs to grow to Christlikeness. So, we need good food and good care to be mature adults in Christ. As if a gardener takes care of plants providing water in time, we all need spiritual living water to grow in Christ well. As you may know, spiritual living water is Jesus Christ. I hope that you provide spiritual living water to your soul and mind. Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:38). As if the plants die without water, our spirit also may die without the spiritual living water. So be a good gardener for your soul and mind and your physical body.