Debbie Salter Goodwin
What We Were Supposed to Learn in a Garden
In the middle of these closed-in and travel-less times, my husband and I visited Gibbs Garden, a pleasant 45 minute drive from us. It is 292 acres of cultivated garden walks. When we visited in June, there were seas of green ferns waving gently, New Guinea impatiens raised their bright pink heads in silent salute. Pink-veined caladiums were choirs of color and song. It was a buffet of color and scent and texture. We breathed in beauty, order, balance, peace, everything our ravished souls needed.
It made me remember another garden at the beginning of the world where God gave Adam and Eve a garden to live in. God planned it as a place where they would thrive.
I've been wondering what lessons have we missed by covering the land with concrete and high rises? What lessons do we need from a garden to remind us how God intended us to live?
Here is my list. I’d love for you to add some ideas of your own!
1. A walk with God prepares us for the next day.
The relationship between God and man began with daily intimacy.
Nothing was more important than keeping that walk and talk with God. Not because it was a have-to task, but because it was a want-opportunity.
Did Adam talk about the frustration of naming animals? Did Eve wonder about what to fix for dinner? I don’t think so. I think they shared their awe-struck discoveries and constantly thanked God for them.
How would we compare our communication with God? Too many times it is heavy with concern and weighted with fears, with only a few splashes of thank you’s when things go our way. Adam and Eve found all their joy in every good and perfect gift from God. We get off track because we try to be co-creators of the gifts we want. Then, we delay our thanks until our own answers come.
Something is off-center there, don’t you think?
2. In a garden everything was created for purpose and beauty.
Why would God create anything for another other reason? We have maligned our own purpose for being on this planet more than once. We complain about how we look or what has happened to us. We compare ourselves to others and come up short.
What if we saw ourselves the way God created us, not to do some special thing; but to become the person God planted. We were created to lift our heads with a thirst for the day in the same way a flower bursts with joy. We don’t try harder; we thirst more.
3. Every season has its beauty.
Every time I take a walk in a garden like Gibbs, I immerse myself in a specific season’s beauty. Whether it is the fall mosaic of orange-blended peach against the flutter of yellow or the berries polka dotting bushes. While fall or winter may be more restrained beauty, I still register the gifts as beautiful.
Why don’t we treat our lives the same way? Why don’t we see the seasons of change as beauty in the making? Why do I reject some seasons as something to get through instead of a season for cultivating a different kind of beauty? I don’t think God ever intended us to live without beauty!
4. Nothing dies naturally without purpose.
The garden is an ecosystem of critical balance. Leaf mulch retains moisture until the leaves decompose to share their gifts for other seasons of growth. There is always a resurrection going on in a garden.
Why can’t we apply that garden truth to the activities and relationships of our lives more easily? Why can’t we accept that some activities must die naturally to give growing space for something new? Why do we think letting go of something reduces opportunities rather than opens the door for new? We need to apply this garden-growing lesson without dread.
Unfortunately for Adam and Eve, and us, the evening walk that could have cleared up every question about forbidden fruit didn’t happen. Adam and Eve answered questions for themselves that only God could answer.
What if we returned to a walk with God characterized by intimacy and delight? What garden lessons might God teach us if we sit with more sunsets and smell more roses? Maybe we should have learned these lessons by now, but while as long as we have breath; it isn't too late.