THIS SERIES: THE RESTORATIVE POWER OF CREATION
...the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east,
and there He placed the man he had made.
The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground
—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit.
In the middle of the garden He placed the tree of life
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river flowed from the land of Eden,
watering the garden and then dividing into four branches.
[Genesis 2:8-10 NLT]
...the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God
as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…
It’s July tomorrow, garden centres are busy, the sound of lawnmowers fill the suburbs, and the British passion for gardening is once again demonstrated.
What is it about gardens which evokes such a response in so many? I wonder if it is the call of Eden, a 'memory' deep in our spirits of that first garden, where the Lord walked in 'the cool of the day'? Maybe there is a subconscious expectation that a garden is a place where we might find God.
It was a garden that Jesus retired to, to meet with His Father before His crucifixion, and it was in a garden that Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Christ. Time out in a special garden can quiet our clamorous souls, replenish our strength and enable us to hear the quiet voice of the Master. It can be one of those places which cries ‘home’ to our hearts.
If you are not blessed with outdoor space, take some time out to visit someone else's—there are many private gardens open for charity throughout the summer, in addition to the large public gardens and parks, and country estates open the year round. Details of UK gardens can be found in the links below. (If visitors to the site, from outside the UK, have information about similar opportunities in their own countries, please do share them in the comments section below.)
In addition, The Quiet Garden Movement ‘nurtures access to outdoor space for prayer and reflection in a variety of settings... and creates opportunities for people to experience silence, restfulness and contemplative practices. There are over 300 Quiet Gardens worldwide, and a number of events organised for the summer months.
Find out more: http://quietgarden.org/
A garden is also one of the ways where man's inspired creativity takes raw ingredients and develops them to create something new and beautiful.
We rightly delight in the glory of the 'unspoilt' natural world, but as well as treasuring and caring for the Lord's gifts to us, another element of our calling as children of God is to take our inheritance and develop it. A garden is a wonderful picture of that calling in process.
There is a wonderful little space on the edge of moorland, not far from where we live. In an ancient circular drystone sheepfold, no longer used for livestock, someone has planted a garden. The contrast between the outer ‘wild’ beauty, and the inner cultivated beauty is very ‘Eden-like’, and we have had some profound encounters with the Lord in that small space. On one memorable occasion a field mouse, happily and unhurriedly went about its business of nest-building without alarm, overlooked by a robin, as we sat and watched from no more than an arm's length away.
There are many such developments dotted around our villages, towns, and cities—unpromising and even derelict places which someone has been inspired to make beautiful. It may not have been their original purpose, but these little ‘Edens’ can become meeting places with the Lord for the local community.
Perhaps you could even initiate such a space, the RHS has some useful advice on setting up community gardens:
Let's respond to the call of Eden...
NEXT WEEK: THE HEALING POWER OF SILENCE
GET IN TOUCH...
[Photo credit: Kim Becker (photographer) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
Da Kraplak (type writer);
Merakist (social media)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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