I’ve always liked gardening, but I’ve never been particularly good at it. To be fair, I like planting and harvesting . . . when it comes to all the weed-pulling, watering, composting, bug-removing . . . I suddenly find that I have laundry to fold! One of the blessings that came out of the quarantine time, for me, was that I had a lot of time for gardening, and at a time of year that I didn’t melt every time I set foot out the door. So I was able to spend at least a few minutes most mornings tying up tomatoes, counting how many beans had sprouted, and yes, pulling a few ambitious weeds. I was amazed at how peaceful I felt during those times, and at how quickly our scanty little garden became a place of refuge for me.
I was reminded of those quiet mornings the other day when I stumbled on this quote from Thomas Merton: The sweep and serenity of a landscape, fields and hills, are enough to keep a contemplative riding the quiet interior tide of his peace and his desire [for God] for hours at a time.
I’ve visited the Abbey of Gethsemani where Merton lived, and I can imagine him looking out over those beautiful, rolling, Kentucky hills and writing this. I could certainly rest my heart in such a beautiful landscape for hours. But with the five kids in tow, I think my experience would be a little, well, different from Merton’s.
That doesn’t mean I have to give up on the peace that flows out of God’s creation, however. I learned it (or re-learned, maybe) this spring: any little patch of green will do. Get close to the pot of basil on the apartment balcony, drag a chair into the back yard, visit the neighborhood park. (Our family prefers tree-shaded parks partly for this reason.)
Life with kids is chaos, whatever their age, whether they’re in school or on vacation or trying to manage Zoom classes. Our good God has given us help with the stress, though. He has given us a beautiful world, which is so desperate to reach us that it even peeks up through the cracks in our driveways. What better way to thank him for this great gift than by stepping outside, even if only for a few minutes, and letting ourselves revel and rest in God’s green abundance?