These past two weeks I have been able to work in my parents’ garden with my father. I enjoy the planting out and seeing the soil turned and filled with flowers and seeds that will grow and bloom later. I won’t be here to see the finished garden grown to the full potential this summer, but I have seen this transformation of the garden many times before. It is a wonderful event to watch a garden grow and transform from the bare earth to a profusion of flowers and vegetables.
It takes a good deal of time and patience to create the beauty we see in mid to late summer which someone has had to pre-plan and plant. My father knows the plants he wants in which spaces, making for a well considered space of colour, foliage and height-distance perspectives. Once begun the garden needs tending. It will grow wild of its own accord unless tamed on a continuous basis. “Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have encountered a relative’s latest example of unreasonableness.” (Christopher Lloyd, The Well-Tempered Garden)
In our own lives we may see and feel that we are growing a garden of sorts. Families are like this: children are raised and taught over years and eventually leave home. A home is a garden for the family to grow and expand. It is (or should be) a safe place for the development of the children. It is when the children leave and the full potential of the individuals are realised that we know the gardeners tended well the garden of the home.
Our spiritual lives are also like a garden and there are references to this in Scripture as well. Not all the gardens turn out well. But we are enjoined to plant like the sower. We don’t always know if the seeds will germinate or not, or even if they will survive. But we have to have faith that the work begun will have fruit in the future. We are not always called to collect the produce or even enjoy the flower-filled garden. But we may see the results. The emphasis is on the planting and the trust that they will grow. We sow the seeds of faith around us and let the Lord do His work. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Mt 5,45). We trust that He will see to it that the seeds He wishes to grow will do so. We are simply the sowers and perhaps from time to time the harvesters.
Whichever the case may be, allow yourself to be an instrument; a trowel in the hands of God in his great garden created at His hands. Our greatest work in this world is being His instruments for good. Pray to that end.