I gave my mom two copies of The Fragrance of God for her birthday, one or her and one for me, so that we could have a book club discussion. I connected with so many specific passages, but it was the overall reverence with which the author spoke about his garden that touched me. He made me expand my definition of vocation in seeing that I could have many places in my life where I use my heart and talents to serve God - even care for God's creation.
Or as Fredrick Buechner puts it, "The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world's hunger meet."
I love the beauty of the created world but I am far from a master gardener. I do not know the names of most of the plants in my yard. My care for them, however good intentioned, can be a bit inconsistent. It was after reading
the Lutheran Magazine article by Jim that helped me see my yard and my gardens differently. In the context of caring for creation within the overwhelming problems of global warming Jim wrote about The Little Way and Thérèse of Lisieux, "The Little Way challenges followers of Christ to look at the small things that each person can do, especially when doing small things seems to make no difference at all. Adopting The Little Way requires giving up the need to control outcomes and to embrace a trust in the effectiveness of doing small things." It clicked for me...again. Gardening is not about keeping the weeds at bay. God is in the physical act of gardening. We participate in God's creative process. Gardening is art. As Guroian says, "No earthly garden is ever just an earthly garden, for God is in the garden."
So now I am reframing how I think about my yard. I will try not to think of it as a battle each growing season; me vs. the yard. When I think of it that way, it seems neither I nor the yard really wins. This is what I have learned in my work and in parenting and now will apply it to caring for creation: When we make that switch from focusing on the product of our work to the process, we become inspired. We are inspired to use our talents not only for an end result but also for the extravagance of experiencing them for beauty or peace or usefulness in the world. Using The Little Way as my guide in gardening, I will try to give up the need to control
the outcome and will "embrace a trust in the effectiveness of doing small things."