The Only Reason I Put Up With Gardening


My dad was a gardener. But his ability to care for plants did not trickle down to me. When I try to care for our gardens I usually just end up all itchy with a sunburn. I do not like gardening.

But I do I like gardens.

I like the end product. I like the beauty that radiates from a well-cared for garden. I like the invitation to serenity that a garden offers. But most of all, I like the grace that is displayed in a garden.

Every time I look at a manicured lawn, a well-watered flower, a perfectly trimmed rose bush, a sprouting tulip, a tree in full bloom, I am struck by one simple thought:

“It didn’t have to be this way…”

It is very easy to conceive of a world in which trees have no color. Or a world where every tree is poisonous. It is very easy to conceive of a world where flowers have no fragrance. Or a world where there are no such things as flowers, but instead only weeds. It is very easy to conceive of a world where grassy lawns never turn green (a strange place called California :). Or a world where all grass feels like shards of glass. We could have lived in a world where every plant was bred to kill us.

Our world could have been a very different place.

And yet, we live in a world soaked with beauty. We live in a world where elements of nature provide us peace. We live in a world where something as small and insignificant as plants can offer us transcendent pleasure.

This, by definition, is grace. For we are getting something we did not earn nor even necessarily deserve. We are given the gift of experiencing colors, wondering at beauty, enjoying nature. Why?

What did we do to make it happen?

We had no control over how the universe was formed. We had no control over what plants came into being. We had no control over what world we would be born into.

It is all grace. And it is grace that’s not just available to some people. It is grace that is available to all people, in all places.

It is what theologians call Common Grace. Grace, given freely by God, to all people.

“It didn’t have to be this way…”

For some reason gardens always remind me of this fact. The fact that I live in a world saturated with God’s common grace.

Sure it is true that our grace-filled environment has also been marred by sin.  So now, for a season, it may take some work (on most weekends, a lot of work) to maintain the beauty which God has made available. But it is worth it.

Because few things are better than interacting with, seeing, and sharing God’s common grace.