We live in an age when everything is analyzed endlessly and measured minutely. But no one can measure the Spirit.
At the beginning of the growing season, we can take a tiny tomato seed and plant it in the earth. We can water it and observe it and watch it grow into a strong healthy plant which produces beautiful fruit. We can analyse soil and measure inputs, but we cannot account for the spark that sets things in motion and provides life to the plant, the very essence of life. This spark is the Spirit. It flows through the garden, energising the produce we require for life as well as the weeds that make us work hard for our sustenance. The Spirit is so prevalent in the garden that we should take time to recognise this miracle that God has provided. Indeed, it is there in all we grow and in all of nature. However, in the garden we have come to recognise it and be replenished by it. The amazing abundance of the Spirit in the garden sometimes requires us to stop, listen and absorb this wonder where little seeds can produce fruit and vegetables tenfold, twenty-fold and more in amazing bounty.
We have watched the Spirit at work in the garden bringing in bees and other pollinators, more workers and inspiring our children. The inspiration of the children feeds our own spirituality and inspires us to more wonder at God’s circle of life. Each plant has Spirit which it shares with us. Even the weeds that we pull can be comforted that we are composting them and turning them into food for the continuance of life.
What is the relationship between gardening and spirituality for us? Gardening and farming have been our spiritual teachers, showing us the bounty and dependability of God’s covenant with us. When we plant a clove of garlic in the Fall or a tomato seed in the Spring we wonder “How can these little seeds turn into such sustenance?” Yet they always do and we believe that we can interact with the spirit of these plants in a symbiotic relationship. It would be strange if our own faith and spirituality did not grow when surrounded by such bounty. Yes, we need to tend the soil and feed it naturally and yes, we need to work hard to cultivate the garden. Because that is our side of the covenant and we are truly honoured to be part of this beautiful cycle of life.
So, there we are. The garden provides for our physical sustenance as well as our spiritual sustenance and as more helpers come in and more children are engaged, the Spirit grows along with the produce. The more we can produce for others, the more the Spirit spreads like ripples in the water. Praise God for the honour of tending His garden.
The writers: Wendy & Peter Southward are members of St Andrew’s in the Mission, Kelowna, and founding gardeners of ‘The Gift,’ a farm-garden helping to feed the neighbourhood, cultivated by congregational and regional church volunteers. In 2021 they produced 1,700 pounds of organic vegetables for those living with food insecurity. The Spiritual Development Committee extends their thanks for responding to our invitation to write this article.