“I had thought I was growing my garden,
when actually my garden was growing me.
Making me wiser.”
Time Began in a Garden
Now the Lord God had planted a garden.
…He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.
“In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.”
“This is My Father’s World”
Maltbie Babcock was inspired to write the lyrics to the well-beloved hymn, “This is My Father’s World.” A pastor in New York, it was obvious that he gained refreshment and solstice for his soul on many a walk and would begin his walks with the expression, “I’m going out to see my Father’s world” (hymntime.com).
Definitely a more appealing alternative finding solstice in nature than my own futile attempts at solitude when I had young children; in moments when I craved a quiet respite, I would flee to the bathroom or my small closet. I would wonder, in those busy times of child rearing and child training, if I would ever be able to have a clean and orderly patch of my own small world for more than 10 minutes at a time.
It reminds me of C.S.Lewis’s description of Narnia in The Magician’s Nephew when all is coming to life, and all seems almost chaotic and confusion, yet lovely and full of wonderful anticipation at the same time:
“This world is bursting with life for these few days,
because the song with which I called it into life
still hangs in the air and rumbles in the ground.”
My young brood was “bursting with life and energy,” and the chaos of keeping up with them was a job that required overtime without pay, “yet lovely and full of wonderful anticipation at the same time.” Of course, the investment was well worth it, and it was my joy and pride to nurture my little ones. I was living my dream, my quiver full, Psalm 127:3 fulfilled:
“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are the children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (NIV).
Sometimes, though, I would feel the overwhelming needs surging about me and, like taking the path of least resistance, my spirit would fall into an attitude of complaint. It was the complaints of Moses on repeat, except instead thousands of Israelites’ complaints, I was surrounded by only five little sprouts, clamoring for food, with me crying out:
“Where can I get meat for all these people?
They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’
I cannot carry all these people by myself;
the burden is too heavy for me.”
Numbers 11:13-14 NIV
I imagine many a mom with small children in tow can relate to Moses. The cycle of preparing food, providing a nutritious meal, and cleaning up can feel like a drudgery, and joy and gratefulness is easily buried under the piles of dishes and laundry. It is hard to feel grateful when surrounded by ungratefulness. How do we keep a healthy perspective?
Shelley Cramm gives us an insightful practice modeled by our hymn writer, saying:
“The songwriter seemed to express that feeling of being by ourselves, yet not alone. Quieted by methodical work, God’s wisdom infuses our thoughts and his ways overtake our perspective. We are not the only ones working…The fun, the invading joy, the captivating comfort of His presence that we harvest from [our domestic responsibilities]…They are a whisper of his good purpose, a respite from worldliness, pettiness, irritations, and annoyances that will otherwise fill our minds”
(My Father is the Gardener, p.134).
Yes and Amen! These days, I take refuge in my gardens instead of my closet, and I can bury those petty irritations as I weed out my cranks, digging my fingers into the soil even as my spirit digs its roots into His presence, “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:3 NIV).
Do everything without complaining or arguing.
Colossians 3:17 MSG
Plant gardens and… seek the peace of the city.
Joyfully teach them the proper path, even when they go astray.
Keep showing the humble your path,
and lead them into the best decision.
Psalm 25:8-9 TPT