The Look of Love

I love my garden, I really do. You might question my affection, though, if you watched me work in it.

Spring surges with growth, but that’s when I prune and thin with ruthless abandon. Sometimes I seem to erase the plants’ entire forward progress. They would grow, flower, and produce fruit whether or not I interfered, but cutting back now makes them healthier later. Chopping off wrongly directed branches redirects their energy to branches heading the right way. Thinning blossoms sacrifices some beauty now, but makes for larger, healthier fruit in the fall. It also prevents overloading branches with so much fruit they break.

In summer, flowers busily bulge into fruit while I hack away at the dirt beneath them. I turn their roots’ world upside down with pitchfork and shovel on a regular basis. It disturbs them but fluffs their ground in the process, increasing their capacity to absorb summer rains. It’s sweet regard that motivates me to stink up their roots with decomposing matter. Vital nutrients are released only if it rots nearby.

In the fall, vegetation shows off its fully ripened harvest. I step in to separate it from its fruit, blessing empty stomachs or collecting more seed. By now, piles of dead and used up plant parts lie at each base, creating hiding places for slugs and bugs to overwinter. It doesn’t matter how precious these parts used to be to the plant, it all must now be raked and swept away.

In winter I finally leave my garden alone. The weather, instead of my hand, is its greatest challenge. It doesn’t look beautiful. It doesn’t look productive. But deep work is taking place under the cooling ground. Winter prepares my garden to greet the spring again.

A Touch for All Seasons

Each season requires a different touch from me, a different target for my attention. In our lives, God acts as the Master Gardener. He too tends us differently in each season of our lives. His hand sometimes disturbs us, sometimes seems to take things away, but our good is His ultimate objective—our strength, our health, our ability to bear fruit that is large and full of flavor and blessing.

It’s love driving our Master Gardener to rip and tear at vines overreaching their boundaries in our lives. Love compelling Him to pry root from root. Mercy leading Him to create upheaval, bruise roots and shake out dirt. To create provision, new life and proper growth. To create beauty out of chaos.

When day is done in my garden, when hoe and spade and clippers are back in their places, I often take one more stroll. Spinning the hose nozzle to “gentle shower,” I give my garden a final drink, retire to my porch and sink into my deck chair. This is the moment I’ve been working for. Pealing off my gloves, I let my eyes scan the whole of it, let my lungs fill with fragrance of flowers and grass and upturned dirt.

I can’t help but say with my Master Gardener, “Behold, it is very good.”

“You shall be like a watered garden,

And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah 58:11 NKJV).

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