“Why do we garden? We garden because we are created in the image of the Master Gardener, in whose likeness we grow in measure as we garden. We are not only the field that God gardens but his fellow gardeners in the Paradise he is restoring (1 Cor 3:19) When we garden in humility, with love of truth and beauty, love of the Beloved One himself, Paradise grows up around us.”
The Fragrance of God (p. 48)
This Fall, while working at our Church bookstore, I discovered author and Orthodox Theologian Vigen Guroian. Reading his mediations of gardening and his recollections of his Armenian heritage are absolutely beautiful – like listening to an old friend.
In Inheriting Paradise he writes, “These mediations are quite personal. Yet I did not find it uncomfortable to expose my own inner life through them. It was like talking to a friend or visitor on a stroll through the “real things”
Working the earthy garden works the dirt of the soul and honors a seasonal rhythm which ebbs and flows with the liturgical nature of the rhythm of Church. For me, the garden mirrors something of my soul – it can get weedy.
In a few years I will be fifty years old – and I am really glad and settled to almost have reached that milestone.
For about 40 of those years, I have been gardening in some fashion or other. The wisdom, toil and harmony of the garden has carried me through many joys and hardships. The rich earthy humus especially reminds me from whence I have come.
As I come into my mid-life it is a grateful reminder. “και του χρόνου”
Gardening those early days of my childhood, I would always gather the wild onions, because I never wanted to pluck the pretty flowers.
Over the years those onions bear an allegory all their own.
Gardens have nothing to prove but are known by their fruits. The fragrance of a garden bears the story of it’s maturity. And so every garden bears it’s own story, hidden beneath the harmony of their canopy, beauty of the flowers and nurture of the harvest.
Gardening sustained me through the abuse of a childhood that profoundly shaped my life and the lives of those I love. The quiet of the garden heartened me toward goodness until I found true Goodness that also profoundly shaped my life and the lives of those I love.
The bees in our little garden beckon us toward sharing because of the symbiotic friendship between blooms offering their nectar and bees selflessly gathering the sweet floral essence for their gift of honey. The sharing of pollen and pollination which increases the plentifulness of the yields in our neighbors gardens such that when they share their harvest it is more than we can use or store.
This is the goodness of the garden – why gardeners share their portion.
No matter where we have lived, there has been a garden. In our first basement condominium home, the garden was just a windowsill . It was where lavender grew from seeds and I learned that life can grow and thrive and flourish in the most difficult and even neglected situations – a leaky windowsill and a crumbly earthenware pot – there is the beauty to blooming where one is planted.
Nativity is upon us and amidst the cold weather our garden rests in the same expectation as hearts silently awaiting the birth of Christ.