Everyday Spirituality: Gardening

photo collage by Courtney Perry (all rights reserved)

Part of an ongoing series on Everyday Spirituality.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:8-9

As you’ve seen in previous posts, I dramatically expanded my garden this year. The biblical narrative begins in a garden, and Jesus’ journey nears its end in a garden. These are things I rarely think about when I’m in my garden every day. I’m more wont to consider this quote from Albert Einstein:

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

To write about the spirituality of gardening seems almost so obvious as to be cliché. Nevertheless, it’s taken so much of my time and it has buoyed my spirit so much this summer, that I simply must reflect on it. There’s the obvious: when you break the soil and plant a seed in April or May, it really is hard to fathom what will come of that little seed.

Jesus had something to say about that:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.

Here are some other take-aways from the garden this summer:

You never know what you’re going to get: It looked for a long time like my pickling cucumbers weren’t going to make it. In fact, only one plant did, but it’s already given enough fruit for 9 jars of pickles, with more coming every day.

Some things will grow in abundance: The tendrils of squash and pumpkin have overtaken over half the yard. I can’t give the summer squash and speckled hound squash away fast enough.

Some things won’t grow: A whole patch of peas died, seemingly because it was just too damn hot. I miss them. I wish they’d have made it.

Timing is everything: Cilantro grows like a weed. I have bushes of cilantro that I’m cutting back everyday. The problem is that cilantro’s salsa partners — tomatoes, onions, and peppers — aren’t ready yet. By the time they are, the cilantro will be leggy and flavorless. I should have planted the cilantro later.

I venture out to the garden every morning and evening with great anticipation for what has come to ripeness since my last visit. The connections to spirituality are myriad. Like the spiritual life, gardening is messy and unpredictable; it’s full of failures and of totally unexpected successes.

If you garden, share your spiritual stories with us. Links to photos of your graden are also welcome!

  • Kyle

    Ya, that whole spiritual connection with gardening has sorta changed our lives. First, my wife and I went to work on a farm in Vermont for 4 months and now we’re traveling through central America stopping along the way to do that same thing. It’s nice reading God in Creation in a tent on a farm in Panama. Here’s>/a>some of my recent thoughts. Or here’s us starting a garden.

    • http://kyleandlynea.blogspot.com Kyle

      That link thing didn’t work to well. Oh well.

  • Marshall

    You get another shot at peas in the fall when it cools off again. I suppose the midwest will cool off eventually. Out here on the Oregon coast, the peas are doing fine, but no sign of the regular tomatoes yet. Goes to show, nobody gets everything.

    Don’t forget to think about making a winter planting … carrots, onions from seed, soil builders like vetch or clover. (I don’t know how that works under the snow, but surely something would.)

  • Tom

    Hey bud, I’d love to help with that squash AND cilantro :) Of course, only if thats helpful!

    Hope you are well TJ!