Lessons From My Garden

I find endless metaphors, both spiritual and practical, whenever I garden; the latest being a visual example of that dryness of soul we all experience from time to time.

It was rather miraculous that we didn’t lose one rose bush when our landscapers transplanted over forty roses from one side of the yard to the other in sweltering heat about a month ago. The roses went into severe shock, but were nurtured every day by giving them this super-duper tonic that kept them going. They are now in the midst of thriving, with an explosion of new leaves, buds and blooms.

I did have two casualties. Not fatalities, but close. The landscape architect that drew up our plans called out a maytenus boaria, a beautiful weeping tree from Chili. Very hard to find, so when I did locate a nursery that had two Mayten trees, I drove right out and purchased the most beautiful one of the two. It was doing fine until the heat spell. Then its leaves began to yellow and dry out. Thinking I had killed it, I frantically called the nursery -- they said to very carefully scratch the top layer of the trunk. If it’s bright green under the bark it’s still alive and simply “conserving”. If it’s yellow under the bark, it’s dead. To my relief, it was bright green underneath.

The second casualty was my 20' Lady Banks climbing rose. We waited until the very last minute to transplant it until the fence and arbor were up around the rose garden. It looked great for about a week, and I even blogged about it. Then slowly it began to do the same as the Mayten; from lush green leaves to being completely dried out and brown. Knowing the little trick from the nursery, I scraped a layer off the trunk and it, too, was bright green.

Our backyard is becoming a verdant landscape with brand-new dwarf fescue and nature-loving flowers -- delphiniums, baby's breath, coneflowers, black-eyed susans, lamb's ears, lavender, yarrow, daisies; to one side there's the rose garden in full bloom. Add to that butterflies, bees, dragonflies and hummingbirds. And right smack in the middle of all this life is a dead-looking 10' Mayten and a dead-looking Lady Banks clinging to the arbor.

Sometimes that’s exactly how it is with us. Circumstances throw us into severe shock; we feel surrounded by life but inside we feel dead and dry and barely able to hold on.

King David knew distress of the soul very well.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God. -- Psalm 42:11

I'm thankful we serve a God who is gentle with us when we are "conserving", going through desert periods in our lives. Nothing is blooming, no fruit, just feeling barren. Our prayers feel like they bounce off the ceiling, reading the Word every day is rote, and instead of sensing His presence, there is silence. This is when we truly walk by faith.

It may be silent, but He is there. He is not tapping His foot, expecting us to snap out of it. He patiently cares for us, nurturing us, feeding us with His special tonic even though we may not immediately feel the effects of it. He knows in time the desert in our soul will turn green and bloom and we will thrive again.

A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.-- Isaiah 42:3
Posted by Mutti at August 23, 2006 02:38 PM | TrackBack

It's the converse of what you describe that Christians struggle with as well. We put on our happy church faces, doing fine thanks, bless you brother/sister, but underneath things are not so good. What would you see when you scrape off the surface, vibrant green or dead yellow?

God does not have to scrape - he knows what's going on inside. It's up to us to seek that restoration from Him, for His glory.

Posted by: Marc V at August 24, 2006 07:46 AM

It's unfortunate that many Christians think they have to put on their game face when they're hurting, when all the Lord asks is our honesty. He can't really restore anything if we're too busy pretending everything is "just fine, thank you very much" -- a very mistaken notion that if you're a Christian you have to be happy and upbeat all the time.

The faith part is to continue what we've been doing when we're in a dry time; keep reading the Word, praying, going to church, and to stay connected with the Body of Christ so we can be prayed for, strengthened and encouraged.

Posted by: Dee at August 25, 2006 07:02 PM