The other day I was weeding the jungle of a garden and it came to me, why I keep going with the garden even though it does not come naturally, even though my green thumbs have been painted on as an adult, even though I don’t feel like a real gardener.
It’s the life of virtue.
It’s struggle. It’s sanctification. It’s progress against chaos and entropy.
Like someone once said, I won’t wake up and be a new person overnight. Even if I so desperately want to. It’s not how life works.
I can only keep dying to self and throwing my seeds in the dark earth. I can only keep ripping out the inevitable weeds. I can only keep turning the hose on to soak the thirsty ground. I can only keep learning, and trying, and shooing away cats, and forgetting to thin carrots, and leaving the hoe in the overnight rain.
I can only keep showing up, and bit by bit let the process begin to work a second nature in me.
I will always be a forest child. This is home territory. This is what feels natural to me. The forest is life as gift, God as transcendent Creator, made imminent to me in the wonders that unfold without the slightest pinky of my effort. I need the forest. God speaks and renews in the forest. God embraces in forest. There I find my rest, and the peace of simply being.
But He’s in the garden too, in a different way, in a way I need. He’s here with me, getting my fingers dirty in the toil of post-Eden. This is where I work out my salvation.
I know more now than I did when I started. I’ve been surprised by the grace of what crops up, even with my neglect. I’ve even made friends with a few earthworms. And every time I eat something, juicy and ripe, that grew in this square of reclaimed territory, I taste the joy and I remember, it’s worth it.
And that’s why I keep going.
It would be easier not to, many days. And oh, how I love the path of least resistance. But the path of least resistance is the trampled ground of the scavenging crows, leading only to rocky wastelands.
Here the good soil is made, year by year, blister by blister, death by resurrection.
Here I meet the post-Easter Jesus, who looks an awful lot like a Gardener in the slanted morning light.
Here the fruit of my labour is also the fruit of His labour, and at the end of the day it’s all gift. The Spirit is here in the struggle. Life is here, no matter the colour of my thumbs. Maybe I’ll be a real gardener one day after all.