It is time to turn another page on the calendar. No fooling, it’s already April 1st.
That means “springtime” has now been with us for well over a week. The first day of spring, the Vernal (new/fresh) Equinox (equal night) arrived in my part of the planet this year at 5:37 a.m. Eastern time on March 20. On that auspicious day I was blessed to be able to mark this season of new life by once again leading a team of a dozen volunteer trash picker-uppers as part of the annual Haw River Watershed Clean-up.
However, picking up trash around town isn’t the only kind of spring cleaning that I’m involved in as April arrives. My front “yard” is basically a perennial garden (thanks to the previous owner with little credit to me). It’s one of the main reasons I chose to purchase this property back in 2007. It was, and still is, a delight to have a garden to walk into each day. But along with the delight also comes the chore of weeding out the spring greenery that my home owners association deems to be noxious.
And although I rightfully call it a chore (of which my aching knees and back disapprove), it is a job that I approach with a sense of biblical stewardship that dates back to that original “Garden of Delight” (Eden) so poetically painted by the Creation narrative of Genesis. In that primal tale I discover nothing less than my raison d’etre: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it”(Genesis 2:15).
Tilling and keeping is a metaphor that transcends the laborious (yet somewhat therapeutic) act of weeding the garden gifted me by its creator whose labor of love I now am called upon to faithfully manage.
I know full well that this “Garden of Delight” that greets me (weeds and all) when I step out my front door is a gift of grace that is not of my doing and would not exist were it left to my means and talents to create. I have no illusions that I have a “green thumb.” A creative and talented gardener and horticulturalist extraordinaire I am not. What I am is a recipient of grace who in gratitude for what I have been graciously given willingly (at my best) tends the garden that brings me (and others) delight. Whether it is cleaning up roadside and riverside trash by which others despoil Mother Nature or weeding out the less appreciated greenery that she plants in my garden along with the more treasured foliage, it is all a part of my calling to till and keep this planet (God’s garden) that delights me and sustains me and all God’s creatures great and small.
Tilling and keeping my little parcel of God’s greater garden is a very down-to-earth act that literally keeps me “grounded” in the belief and knowledge of who I am and whose I am. The narrator/s of the Creation account would have all of us who bare the name Homo sapiens (man the wise) envision God as the Master Gardener down on her/his knees with hands in the dirt, fashioning Adam out of the “Adamah” (ground). Like a gardener, God holds the soil of our lives in God’s hands, breathing into it vitality.
From the very beginning of time to springtime 2021, God continually holds the soil of our lives in God’s hands. A gardener God is one who never slumbers or sleeps because there is too much beauty to behold and protect, too much fragrance to inhale and preserve, too much succulence to taste and perpetuate. A gardener God provides for “daily bread” which on this Maundy Thursday meal in an upper room in old Jerusalem becomes for us the body of Christ, the “bread of life.” A gardener God sees beyond the darkness of Good Friday and a cross on a hill and plants the springtime seed of new life that springs forth in that sunlit garden of Easter morn where the echoes of Eden turn temporal preoccupations into perennial (eternal) delights.
When on this coming Easter morn we join in the faithful acclamation, “Alleluia! He is risen; he is risen, indeed,” we will be proclaiming the delight that every gardener experiences each spring as new shoots break forth from the ground in which they laid not dead but only awaiting the season of regeneration. In the mean time I will plan to spend Friday (God’s Friday) stewarding my garden by pulling the last weed before laying the mulch. It will be delightful.