One of the first presents my David ever gave me was a brand new green wheel-barrow. He knew I had always wanted a garden, but that the constricted life I lived for so many years just would not allow it. So when we moved into the parsonage last summer, he enthusiastically began to build me an arsenal of gardening tools – and yes, I do get swoony over a new potato rake or pitchfork. This winter he built me a sturdy and beautiful fence to protect my garden from Marlin, our yellow lab whose goal in life is to dig straight through our backyard to China – while I faithfully composted, tilled, and turned the waiting soil in my empty garden. Motivated more by my craving to grow things than know-how, this spring I planted a huge vegetable garden with bright, splashy cutting flowers around the perimeter.
Truth be told, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my inaugural garden – I planted way too many melons, and not near enough tomatoes. My corn is too far apart and my carrots are too close together. But it’s okay. Happy zinnias and sunflowers weave around the entire space like party streamers, and my favorite morning glories have already overrun the fences. For sure there will be plenty of watermelon and cantaloupes for back porch suppers and enough tomatoes for salads and sandwiches. I’ll do better planning and spacing next year. But for this year, it is enough to weed and work and watch everything grow together in a festival of expectant confusion. Disheveled and unorthodox though it may be, my garden is a sanctuary of colors, hope, and renewal.
Early this morning it was pouring rain and I had to go out and turn off my automatic sprinkler. My intention was to dash out to the garden and zip back inside to my books and coffee – but I could not help but be arrested by the tangled and glorious beauty of my garden. It was a shekinah glory moment for me, and I stood transfixed there in my old red loafers, pajamas, and my David’s massive blue raincoat. I was in a sacred little world, baptized by soft rain, and totally unconcerned about the black, squishy mud ruining my shoes. I knelt almost reverently to mend squirrel-ravaged zucchini vines, and to shore up spindly cosmos and zinnias. On my knees, there in the gentle summer rain, my once shriveled heart overflowed with gratefulness. The restoration of my long, dry, locust-eaten years is evidenced in this tousled, wildly beautiful but eccentric garden. This garden, like my newly resurrected heart, is teeming with new life and anticipation. The similarities are not lost on me, as I pull weeds, transplant, prune, and bolster my garden.
My garden has become hallowed ground for me – a place to dig, plant, and create for sure – but more than that. I pull weeds and I thank God for saving me from choking, hateful voices. I transplant flowers to a safer spot with more sunshine, and I remember how I uprooted my life to be able to lean into the healing light of the sun. I prune and pinch back overgrowth, and I think of the discarded soul-snuffing doctrines that masqueraded as a life-giving faith for me. I bolster unsteady plants, and whisper prayers of thanksgiving for saints who have come alongside to support this wibbly-wobbly pilgrim. This is my own little Eden, a consecrated plot of earth where I work and watch and weed –– a sanctuary for my soul, full of glory sightings, and the sure presence of the Lover of My Soul.
Mona Pineda (Marnell)