8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Genesis 2: 8-9, 15 ESV
So, it all began in a garden. God placed man there and gave him a job – “work it and keep it.” Now this is before the fall, before sin entered the garden. I think it is of utmost significance that God placed his highest form of creation – human beings – in a garden and also gave them work – a purpose.
Purpose – such a powerful word. A definition of purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” Having a purpose gives meaning to our existence. God created us with this need for a purpose – and he had work for humans to do right from the beginning.
I realize not everyone gets the fulfillment I get from working in my garden. It renews and feeds my soul in so many ways. But I do know that a part of our being as humans is restored and renewed when we are outside in nature. An English professor, Dr. Mae Claxton, told me recently about some of her university students engaging in a service project that involved working in the Community Garden. She mentioned that some were not too excited about gardening, but afterwards expressed surprise with how “relaxing” and “renewing” it had been for them to get in the dirt and weed. They made a connection with nature working in the garden that they hadn’t made before.
Could it just be that the experience of tending a garden takes us back to that plan God had for us in the beginning?
Maybe, but regardless, I sense that I am tending God’s creation when I weed, trim, mulch and water. Each plant that grows and blooms is the fruit of that labor. It also brings joy to share flowers and plants with others. The variety of color, texture, form, shape, and smell blesses me. How wonderful that our Father, Creator of the Universe, gave us work that results in such beauty. My husband, Phil, could write about vegetable gardening in much the same way with the end result of food that tastes delicious. That food nourishes our physical bodies and allows us to share with others.
It all began in a garden and the blessing of communing with God continues in gardens all over the earth.