It’s springtime in the Southern Hemisphere, which means I’m hunting for my gardening gloves. Given the climate I now live in, my gardening tools should be readily accessible, but it’s taking some effort to reshape my Western-Pennsylvanian planting paradigm.
My vegetable bed was a mess. Grass and weeds spilled over the sides of the bed, wrestling for dominance over the space. Snails, relishing the darkness and dampness of winter, clung to the frame of the bed and enjoyed free reign. The sage and the lemon verbena were overgrown, sprawling out well beyond their appointed place.
With all the earnestness of an amateur gardener, and of one who is impatient to see the job completed, I set to work pulling and ripping, zealously ridding the garden bed of its intruders. Often my initial grasp and pull only pruned the weeds and grass; their overgrowth, or my carelessness, required a second go to tear up the roots. As I pruned the herbs, I judged by appearance and size, trimming the ungainly branches, bringing the plants down in size so that others would fit next to them. I sighed as I finished: hopefully my work would help, not harm, the plants.
Halfway through my conquest, the metaphor of God as gardener came to mind. He is not, as I am, inexperienced and oblivious to much of the wisdom and knowledge that I assume enables others to cultivate the abundant gardens they do. He, as creator as well as gardener, knows the names of each plant — each weed, even — and knows the climate and care necessary for their flourishing. He has the patience and the wisdom to care tenderly for his garden, and he does nothing haphazardly. In his mercy, he allows the weeds to grow up with the wheat, lest the wheat be uprooted in the wedding. In his love, he prunes the fruitful branches, that they might become even more fruitful. Assured of his mercy and love, I can entrust my soul to this gardener.