Sitting in my office, gazing into my garden sanctuary, it would be easy to be disheartened today. The skies are gray, rain is falling, and the garden is still covered in a foot of snow and ice.
What happened to that amazing pallet of color splashed across the backyard? Now, dead sunflowers tower like brown skeletons, picked clean by birds and left as a barren reminder of a season past.
Dotted throughout this once abundant sacred garden are the steadfast ones: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and assorted herbs. Dried lavender spikes poke through the snow joining the still green spikes of rosemary. Everything else is either blanketed in snow or dead.
Yet with all of this death, I reframe my mind and discover hope. I know that just beneath the snow the soil teams with life. I know the “steadfast ones” will continue to produce through the winter months. A mysterious dance takes place in my garden sanctuary; death and life waltz before me, choreographed by the One who also orchestrates the song.
Ultimately, I embrace death for what it is: a renewing of the soil, a feeding of my subterranean friends that keep my garden healthy and nutrient rich. A reminder from God’s word… “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
I’ve considered working toward a year-round garden. It’s possible, even here in the middle of the Cascade Range. But there’s something refreshing about rest. All this emphasis on production betrays a kind of sacred trust in the garden sanctuary. I need to learn from the rhythms of nature, the God-ordained seasons of birth, flourishing, abundance, death, rest and renewal.
Advent and Christmas, the beginning of the church year, points toward the cross… and to resurrection. On our way to Lent and Easter we pass through the season of Epiphany. Epiphany reminds us that God intends for the story of redemption to reach the ends of the earth. In Christ, God is reconciling all things (Col. 1:19-20). For me, the garden is a seasonal reminder of this deep spiritual truth.
I’m guilty of trying to make God in my own image, an image crafted for me by a society that has lost the art of rest. And I’m guilty of wanting to re-create the world around me, even the quiet places, into that same, hyper-productive image.
Ultimately it’s all a frenetic dance to avoid looking into the barren gardens of our souls, the dying, decaying life that must be embraced to grasp hold of real hope for today and the promise of life to come. A new beauty emerges as I gaze out the window; I begin to hear the music, to see the dance, and to enter into the celebration.
How are you entering the dance of God?
This post was originally featured on Godspace, at that time the blog for Mustard Seed Associates where Andy worked for nine years. Be sure to check out Christine Sine’s Godspacelight blog featuring more of Andy’s writings as well as writers from around the world exploring many aspects of Christian spirituality.