The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
It has taken me a while to write this. As I sat down there were a lot of solid ideas to close up this rich topic on the Spiritual Discipline of Gardening. Ideas such as how perseverance is needed when we don’t see fruit right away, how growth takes time and how inside a small seed lies the potential for a whole field of flowers within a few years, or how one of the best parts of gardening is sharing with friends, family, and strangers what has come from your garden. All of these are great ideas, solid ideas. But this week I wanted to share a bit more personal perspective on how God is using gardening in my life.
My dad passed away suddenly last December from Covid. He had no pre-existing conditions. It was very unexpected and hit hard and fast. The weeks after were a bit of a blur, we had an outpouring of support in the midst of our grief. Grief challenges everyone differently, uniquely. For me, I began to dig. I needed to do stuff with my hands to physically express the challenge that I was walking through emotionally and spiritually. I cleared forest patches, moved railway cross ties, and shoveled dirt. In those moments, covered in dirt was all I saw, the blisters were all I felt. Yet now, months later, I find that every flower bud is a symbol of hope. For as I dug, I planted seeds and in my pain and grief, God met me.
The verses above encapsulate how God has used the analogy of gardening in my life. For from my ashes, my pain, and my grief, beauty is rising up. Out of the dirt, hope is blossoming and with each season a richer appreciation of the little things is growing.
I still greatly miss my Dad. I am still digging. Yet, even in that longing for my Dad lies the beautiful reality that for us as believers in Christ, death is not the end but only the beginning.
May He turn your ashes into beauty, may He bind your broken heart and set you free. May He make your gardens bountiful and bless your eyes to see it all.
Questions for Reflection:
Take a moment to stop and listen and look around you. How do you see God at work?
Many times in our digging we can get discouraged because the flowers and the fruit seem so far off. Who do you know that is digging/working through something? How can you encourage them in their efforts?