You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
I have been asked why I write so much about the garden. Surely there are other more important things to write about? Well, maybe there are, but there are wiser men out there who can write far more eloquently on deeper subjects. I’m just a simple man so I write on simple matters.
Looking back over my reflections the message that comes across most clearly can be summed up in Isaiah’s prophesy : ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel –which means God is with us’ Isaiah 7:14 NIV. That I take to mean God is with us at all times.
To my mind, God does not live in that elaborate, highly decorated building in the centre of town that we call ‘Church’ though, of course, we are called to join our fellow Christians there in communion with God. Neither does God live in a box that we can keep on the mantelshelf to be opened when we want to ask for something and then swiftly closed before He asks something of us. The simple fact is that God lives in the messiness of our everyday lives; in the small things as well as the large. He is present at the wedding of a daughter, the birth of a child, and the Golden Wedding celebrations of our parents just as much as in the darkness of the chemotherapy unit. And no doubt you remember clearly the time you were woken at 3am by the slamming of the front door to see Dad walking down the street in his pyjamas on his way to work – from which he had retired some 20 years ago but which his fuddled brain has forgotten to tell him. God was with you then as well – what woke you up? We can try to ignore Him, we have the free will to do that – another of God’s gifts to us, by the way, but we cannot escape His loving presence. As the psalmist says: Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. Psalm 139:7-8(NIV)
So where did I find God on Saturday? Unsurprisingly, in the garden. As I collected grass clippings and weeds a young robin flew down and perched on the side of the box less than a foot away from me. He looked at me, put his head on one side as if to ask “Do you mind if I see what you have in your box?” and then when he thought I was not watching him started feeding from the bugs in the litter. God was with us both at that moment.
It is the ability to share times like that with you that I am called to write about the garden. Thanks be to God.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years