Nothing is better than a childhood with summers spent on the farm. Even now, they sit in my memory like a blissful visitation. When you’re young, two months of glorious freedom stretch out before you like an adventure. Of course, there are chores (if mom can find you), and you can’t control the weather, but taken together, these are halcyon days. I just close my eyes, and it all comes back to me: the heat beating down, the sun dappling all that lush green foliage into a million different shades, and the big blue of the sky, going on forever. Tramping barefoot through the dirt, hot and powdery, was wonderful. We kids could invent a hundred different games to while away the time. You could get lost for hours, just watching the clouds.
And then, there was the garden...a whole world of tempting and forbidden delights. Usually, we were involved in the tilling and planting; (definitely, I remember a lot of weeding). Every year, it never failed to fascinate; the way you could just put these tiny seeds in the ground and bounty would spring up overnight. Of course, the crops did the same thing…but you couldn’t pillage them as gleefully. Most of the time, mom was really strict about what we could take out of the garden without permission, (as children are not very careful pickers, especially with the peas), but naturally, rules were made to be broken!! It was possible, (even necessary), to creep in stealthily and grab a few things. I’m not sure how it actually got invented, but my sister and I loved to mash up peas and raspberries together, which, strangely enough, tastes really good. Nothing can beat those fresh vegetables, straight out of your own garden! That’s perfection; especially the first, tender new potatoes. Mom would cook them, smothered in cream, butter and dill. When it all came to ripeness, it was a veritable feast, for the senses and for the palate, and we dug in heartily after a hard day of imagination and enterprise.
Right from the beginning, gardens figured largely. Remember Eden? The Lord is big on horticulture! Unfortunately, the gardens of our own lives may be somewhat harder to manage. We’re not even sure what kind of seeds may have gone in the ground, or what they might produce. It can all be a bit of a hodge-podge; some flowers, some vegetables, lots of weeds. However, the Lord assures us “To everything, there is a season” (Ecc 3:1-8), if we let Him order the planning and harvest. He completes the thought, emphasizing “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (3:11). Just as sun, earth and rain are vital to the growth of earthly crops, His presence is critical to our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual yield. He is Lord of creation, but also over our fruitfulness. The book of the Song of Solomon compares the believer, male or female, to a garden. It’s an image of relationship: the cultivation of destiny. The Lord describes the wonderful things He wants to plant (Songs 4:12-15). Then He says:
I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved. Songs 5:1
The ground of life is often hard and unyielding. It kills many precious plans and dreams. Seeds shoot up excitingly, only to be blighted by withering conditions and noxious pests. There’s also an unrelenting enemy who creeps in during the night, to steal seed and plant thorns. Despite it all, Jesus can bring things to proper bud, blossom and bloom. Do you have your face turned towards the Son? Are you taking in the sweet, steady rain of His Spirit, the refreshment of worship? Is your garden weeded with His Word, and protected by prayer? Mary, Mary, there’s nothing contrary about it! Your garden will grow, strong and beautiful. Everything He touches He brings into full maturity and beauty. He promotes our growth, and then feasts with us. The fruit is juicy, ripe, sweet and highly gratifying. It’s everything you could desire. It may even make the idyllic, oblivious, halcyon days of childhood perfection pale in comparison.