Francis Bacon wrote,
“God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest form of human pleasures.”
Awe and wonder
I began gardening about 28 years ago. I subscribed to Better Homes & Garden. The spring and summer issues were filled with pages of beautiful gardens and bright flowers of all kinds. One autumn day I purchased a bag of tulip bulbs.
I followed the directions on the tulip bag and planted the tulips in the autumn soil. Winter passed. In the spring, the tulips began to sprout. Fully bloomed pink tulips bordered what was now a tulip garden.
In the process of caring for and admiring my tulips, I encountered the spiritual dimension of gardening. One sunny late afternoon as I walked past the tulips, I was drawn to one tulip in particular.
The tulip’s pink petals were wide open. The inside of the delicate tulip revealed the exquisite intricacy of the tulip’s black and soft yellow stamen and a brighter yellow pistil.
I was overcome with awe and wonder. Something so beautiful could not be designed by human hands. An overwhelming sense of peace came over me.
This moment was a God experience.
The next morning the tulips were tightly closed and asleep. Their petals were sprinkled with droplets of morning dew. Simply magical!
My growing love of gardening
My success with the tulips and my God experience with them planted the seed for my growing love of gardening. Little by little, I planted more flower gardens and more kinds of flowers.
I planted perennials — roses, purple iris, daffodils, daylilies, Asiatic lilies, hostas, purple Liatris, Coreopsis lightening bugs, gladiolas, and lavender gayfeather (they attract butterflies and hummingbirds). They resurrect every year.
Every year I plant annuals such as impatiens, petunias, and marigolds (bumblebees and butterflies love to dance around them). Annuals bring more beauty to my gardens, if only for a season.
Mind, body, and spirit
Gardening has taught me many lessons. I have learned that gardening is hard work but spiritually fulfilling.
Gardening not only involves the entire body in the physical act of planting but also the mind and spirit.
With planting comes preparing the soil and pulling weeds throughout the flowering season. This means getting your hands dirty, even with gardening gloves, kneeling on the earth, and using your feet, arms, shoulders, and hands to dig deep.
This means filling the gardening water bucket heavy with water or dragging a water hose to shower and spray the garden a couple of times a day. Thirsty flowers need to be quenched. Gardening requires and teaches patience and care.
As I faithfully care for my gardens, they nurture me spiritually.
The hard work of gardening rewards me with spiritual calm.
As I engage my body muscles, my mind is still and quiet. Almost always, the chorus of the singing and chirping birds perched above on trees or power lines accompanies this stillness.
A conversation with God
As I plant, weed and water the flowers, l listen to the calming chatter of the birds and I contemplate. I set my worries aside and have a silent conversation with God. The physical activity of gardening is a spiritually soothing exercise.
I never imagined taking up gardening. Begin planting your own seeds. Read gardening books and websites. They offer great ideas, tips, and plans for growing a flower garden.
Then plant a garden and watch it grow. Be patient and tender with your garden. It will give you great pleasure, joy, peace, and calm.
You might even experience the spiritual dimension of gardening and find God among the weeds and the blooms.
St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that “God can be found in all things.”
St. Teresa of Avila uses the garden as a metaphor for our own lives.
She writes that we must “cultivate a garden on very barren soil full of weeds” and that we “must take pains to water [the seeds] so they don’t wither but bud and flower.”
George Bernard Shaw writes, “The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for Him there.”
Indeed! I find God in my gardens, too.
My gardens give me great joy. Butterflies, wasps, ladybugs, bumblebees, and other insects happily feast and dance among the blooms. They also find great pleasure.
Miriam Diaz-Gilbert (aka Miriam Gilbert) is an avid flower and vegetable gardener. When I’m not gardening, I’m running ultramarathons. Gardening is great cross-training. Weeding helps me to relax before race day and to visualize the race. I was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul — Running for Good. You can read my story here. Thank you for sharing my story.