Regaining My Humanity Through Gardening

We’ve recently taken up gardening in the Geminn household and I have found it immensely enjoyable.  We now have two garden beds with growing vegetables, fruits and flowers.  What’s amazing about this new experience of ours is how easy it has been.  Apart from getting everything set-up like building the boxes, putting in the dirt, the plants and then watering them it hasn’t required much more from us.  Instead, with enough sun and water they grow which is exactly what is happening with ours. Frankly, it’s a miracle.

Again, so simple and easy.  It so fascinating to me because it sort of runs in contradistinction to the workaholism that has come to dominate our culture and church.  Embedded within this notion is the idea that how hard one works is indicative of the outcome they will get.  It correlates hardwork with production and in a consumer based culture production is incredibly important, is it not?  But this begs the question: have we misunderstood the value of hardwork as it relates to our vocation as human beings?  I sometimes think that we use vocation as justification for unhealthy behaviors such as workaholism which often plays itself out in bad boundaries and co-dependent behaviors.  Moreover, as I’ve written elsewhere, we tend to use vocation as the legitimator of “life as it is” in the midst of systemic and personal sin.

Maybe I am getting ahead of myself but this experience has prompted me to reflect upon our role as human beings in God’s creation.  The ancient wisdom found in Genesis suggests that we were called to be gardeners with God rather than busy bodies working endlessly for some sense of pleasure and security.  This problem, of course, comes when we decide to create our own world within God’s world which results in the curse of hard labor and toil.  For some reason we accept this as our lot in life rather than reflecting upon the fact that while it’s a curse there’s a way out.  Abel reveals that much to us in Genesis 4 when instead of being obedient like his brother Cain by becoming a farmer he becomes a shepherd.  Remember, there’s a direct line from Cain to Egypt.  After all, the farming Egyptians looked down upon the Hebrew shepherds because they considered them lazy and unproductive.  What could such persons contribute to their way of life?  Slavery it was!

Anyways, forgive the digression, but gardening has proven to be enjoyable for us.  I am amazed at the joy it brings me when I look outside our back window to see both garden beds growing more lush by the day.  I also find myself more grateful for things like rain and sunshine because I know what effect such things will have on my plants.  Gardening reconnects me with creation and reminds me that I am link in a chain of interdependence which has been mostly forgotten in this highly individualized and modernistic era of ours.  I can better understand and appreciate the profundity of the words of Moses throughout Genesis 1, “it was good.”  Indeed it is good and the Lord has invited us to take part in this goodness, in taking care of it and in taking care of one another.

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