The Rev. Peter Luckey, senior pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.:
My wife is the real gardener in the family. Every spring the garden becomes a little larger, the lawn a little smaller (less to mow). The iris and peonies have come and gone now. Taking their place, yellow day lilies announce themselves, like trumpets heralding a king.
The front garden borders a heavily traveled sidewalk. On any given day, a KU student may pause from his or her cell phone long enough to breathe in the fragrance of the roses. At commencement, the iris become a backdrop for photos of newly minted graduates. And, truth to tell, the plants and bushes are known to be a handy receptacle for flung beer bottles.
Even so, every garden is a little bit of Eden, a reminder that though we may rake and hoe, water and prune, God brings the growth.
Neighbor Linda Lungstrum says, “Spring is like a miracle every year. Every spring is a rebirth. Gardening is extremely spiritual for me.”
However, as anyone with a green thumb knows, a garden is a battlefield. Plants proliferate; they fight others for growing room. Weeds demand their day in the sun. The vagaries of weather (Kansas, hello!) determine what will survive and what will fail. Another life lesson: There are no guarantees.
Above all, gardens teach us that God fills our world with beauty and wonder. The plant “datura” (sometimes referred to as “witch’s weed” because of its toxicity) is remarkable for how its white flower unveils at dusk. We have been known to pull out a couple of lawn chairs at night, as if we were getting ready for the fireworks show, and watch, in the encroaching darkness, this white flower unfurl.
This is the greatest religious teaching of all: The world is filled with miracles, and some are to be had right in our own backyards.
— Send e-mail to Peter Luckey at email@example.com.
Doug Heacock, contemporary worship leader and director of media and communications, Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave.:
I am not a skilled gardener. But a couple of years ago, I decided to create a small raised bed for a little vegetable garden where I have somehow managed to grow onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, spinach and herbs like basil and peppermint. I don’t weed my garden often or thoroughly enough, nor do I water it consistently enough, and yet, somehow, each year we have enjoyed an abundance of produce — usually more than we can use, all from just a few square feet of ground.
There are obvious lessons for me in my garden about the creativity of God and the variety and diversity in his creation, about the miracles of life itself and the goodness of God, about faith and waiting on the Lord. The fact that I can put tiny seeds in the soil that eventually become a tasty spinach salad on my table is truly amazing to me. But one of the best lessons my garden teaches me is something with much broader implications.
One of the things about my garden that gives me the greatest joy is sharing the produce with other people. It is wonderfully fulfilling (and great fun) to give friends a sack of fresh tomatoes or peppers when they visit. The lesson is this: When God supplies an abundance, when he blesses us, I believe it is not only for our enjoyment, but so that we can be a blessing to others.
The fact is that most of the world’s people don’t enjoy the abundance and wealth that most of the people who read this enjoy, and I believe that those whom God has blessed with abundance have the responsibility (and the great privilege) to be a blessing to others. We are meant to be not just the recipients of the love of God, but also conduits of that love to the people around us.
— Send e-mail to Doug Heacock at firstname.lastname@example.org.