Outside of the Holy Mass, gardening is what connects me more deeply with the Scriptures and doing the theology of daily life than anything else. For, we all do theology daily; that is, seek to understand the Logos, and we set ourselves up to do theology exceptionally well when, as Saint Anselm would say, our faith is seeking that understanding. It is true that our every thought, utterance, and work we perform is our confession of both our understanding of God and of our relationship to Him.
In my case, I would say that I was a bit obsessed with conditioning the soil of my lawn and my 12x12 garden this Spring. As you can see in the picture above, one of our backside neighbors in the sub-division enjoys a richly green turf, that remains deeply green even through the winter. I dare not say I covet his lawn. Even though I’m not going to go dig it up and transplant it to mine, I honestly can say that I do aspire for my lawn to be green all year as well because I believe it signifies that the lawn around my home is healthy, and that is a good thing for many reasons. Hopefully, my aerating and overseeding last fall and a new organic slow-release fertilizer I’m using this year will pay off dividends.
As for the reason for the obsession I have about the health of my garden, it is because she is my symbol for the Church and my care for her is a praxis that I hope enriches my care for the ministry God has given me.
Mary as the soil of the Church; the soil in which God planted His seed; the soil that opened itself up to allow the Word to grow so that it might one day share its fruit with the world, is an ancient Marian mystery that I’m always contemplating while I’m gardening.
Besides the normal tilling of the soil, laying down new topsoil, manure, fertilizer, potassium, and nutrient-enriched soil, my new thing this year was taking all the leaves I had gathered from the Spring dethatching and grounding them into the soil. The intent in doing so was to make my garden soil more penetrable for the roots of my plants, more habitable for worms, retain more moisture, and release vitamins into the soil as the leaves further break down.
While I was tilling these leaves into the soil; leaves that could have been bagged up and disposed of, I was thinking about how things we would normally consider to be unsightly, discardable, and burdensome to remove, are those very things that can help us the most – our life and in the Church. I thought about my sins, and how unsightly they must be to God and how He could have just as easily discarded me when I was a burdensome anti-Christian to His People. Rather than that, He grounded me down and incorporated me into His Body; to be with His People.
My Grandmother, Minnie, always told me, “Waste not, want not.” I actually still don’t understand that phrase contradiction, but I knew what she was saying. Let us not waste what God has given us; most especially our gifts.