Monday, 14 April 2014
Sensing Lent 35: Garden
There's something about sitting in the garden which is quintessentially English. I'm a simple gardener - as long as the lawn is mown and there's a few flowers in a small bed, easy to keep, preferably perennials which come up every year with no input from me; some herbs in pots, a couple of chairs, some shade, and I'm happy.
I tend to have an 'out of sight out of mind' approach to gardening - when I'm not in the garden I never think about it - but when the sun comes out and I start wandering about out there, I notice things which need weeding, sweeping, cutting, re-potting, digging; and then I'm more likely to begin to get my hands dirty. There's something very grounding about getting your hands in the earth. It relieves the thoughts and settles the mind. At some basic level I suppose we know we're going back there one day.
The original garden (of Eden) can be read as a metaphor for our primary innocence - Adam and Eve tilled the soil in which were all kinds of plants for food and delight. A river flowed through the centre to water it. In the middle of the garden were two trees - the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were allowed to eat of any tree except this one, a command which they ignored, thus losing their innocence. As Joni Mitchell sang, we've 'got to get ourselves back to the garden'.
As those who prize knowledge it's easy for us to read the story as God trying to keep Adam and Eve in the dark. But if knowledge is experiential, their disobedience would mean they 'knew' evil for the first time on eating 'the apple', and that was not going to end well. All we can say is that in acting as though God's way were sub standard, they forfeited some sort of life which would have been untouched by death and decay, something we naturally find hard to imagine. The door was now open to someone hanging on another tree to win back life.
As Holy Week starts, we make preparations to look to that someone who hung on a tree for us, and to walk the way of the cross, in order to get back to the garden.