Today in the Gospel of Mark for this Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jesus talks to the crowds about something they understand well: the sowing and growing and reaping of grain. He acknowledges that they don’t understand the actual science of this process—but they know what to do when, and what the result will be. He then compares the Kingdom of God to the smallest of seeds—the mustard seed—and talks of how it grows large enough to sustain and provide shade for all. Here is the Savior; speaking of planting and seeds and weeds and results.
I came later in life to gardening. Only after marrying twenty years ago and owning my first house did I learn of the joy of seeing the result of hard outside yard and garden work—something I had seen consistently in my life as a musician—hard work and results. The ground of any beautiful garden is watered by sweat—like the work and practice and dedication of a musician is one of “blood and sweat and (sometimes) tears.”
The house we bought had only one small 2 x 2 garden patch with a rose bush. My first garden was my “Mary-rock garden;” a smart first choice as the only living thing I had to plant was a bush framing Mary from behind. The rest of it is of rocks from all over (different vacations or experiences) that are placed carefully, with a near-by stone bench for prayer. Weeding was big for this garden, but I always enjoy the clean-ness of her space when I’m done. I love that statue as it was a gift from a parishioner whose wife had passed away and whose funeral I had played. He was moving out of state, and wanted a home for his wife’s Mary statue. He gifted Her to me, and so I wanted Mary in a special place.
Now I have gardens the whole length of one side of our backyard, all along the back of the house, behind the garage, out front with borders and many, many containers and boxes, too. It is a lot of work; but I am so cheered by the color and pleasure of pure life in front of me with which I get to play. Matisse (famous artist/painter) said gardening was painting world! So, what does all this have to do with Scripture today? We, ourselves, are the garden we need to grow and tend.
Think of it: we have our “ground” prepared by study and Sacrament; we sow the Word into our hearts and minds; we water our souls with the mass and Community, we nourish ourselves with the Eucharist for all the fruits of the Spirit. We weed away those things that may cause us to whither and die, and we thrive in the light of Christ. For me the analogy of caring for our souls works with the caring of a garden—and in the work of gardening one may hear the voice of God speaking and learn gratitude for God’s Creation and it’s beauty and wonder. Maybe more of us should garden at least a little bit; you never know when the Spirit will move you—and it’s a joy to be co-creators of something lovely—whether it’s a garden or our hearts and minds. How does your garden grow?
Just a Note: I found a few lovely sayings about gardens and gardening…
- God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. Francis Bacon
- A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. Greek proverb
- Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers. May Sarton
- Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade. Rudyard Kipling,
- Garden as though you will live forever. –Thomas Moore
- In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. Margaret Atwood
- Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
- The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. George Bernard Shaw
- I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation. Phyllis Theroux
- Essential advice for the gardener: grow peas of mind, lettuce be thankful, squash selfishness, turnip to help thy neighbor, and always make thyme for loved ones. Author Unknown