As a young girl, I was expected to do a fair amount of gardening. I wanted to rebel, but I enjoyed gardening. As I pulled dead leaves from shrubs, pruned and re-potted, my mind quieted until the only sound I perceived was the rustle of the wind. I discovered that cutting back limbs gave birth to new buds and that pulling weeds at their stems allowed other plants to breathe. As my fingers thrust into the earth, I could feel the pulse of creation, echoing back my existence as well. And as the sun nourished the plants I tended, it also sustained me.
Spending hours in the garden, I began to perceive a type of wisdom inherent in creation. Although not spelled out for me, I discovered truths in what unfolded daily. Creation and the creative process itself seemed to reflect aspects of the Divine and what I perceived were expressions of God’s love. If there could be such beauty, God must exist and if new growth emerged from decay, this must be God’s regenerative grace. However, somehow we have to see beyond the dead leaves and know enough to step into the garden. We also have to get our hands dirty.
To create meaning in our lives requires an active process. We scatter seeds, see where they land, and take care to nurture new life. When we can surrender to the conditions of our existence and yet face challenges with courage and heart, new growth emerges. Even if it is God who works the miracles of nature, without tending to weeds and nurturing seedlings, a garden won’t flourish. And without making an effort in personal transformation, our growth becomes stunted.
We have just passed the season of Easter and Passover – two religious holidays that in their own ways, speak of new life and liberation. And for those living on the East coast, the hideously long winter is finally shifting into spring. As we enter these upcoming months, what shoots emerge and what role do we play in their cultivation?