I am not a Gardener
Creationtide Week Two
This is the second week of a series of daily reflections for the Season of Creationtide (which runs from September 1st to October 4th). For those of you who are doing this sequentially, you should start this week on Saturday 8th September 2018. Each week we will post one of the reflections on the blog, along with a week’s worth or reflections as a downloadable PDF. These reflections offer opportunities for reflection and response each day. They are not written with the purpose of convincing the reader that the world was indeed created by the God of the Bible. Instead, it will look in a variety of ways at what it might mean to live within that created world, to help the reader to reflect on their place and role in the world that God has made, and to let that inform their faith. The daily reflections will draw on a range of writers, thinkers, poets and storytellers from across the Christian tradition.
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The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it (Genesis 2:15)
I am not a gardener, I’d like to make that very clear. As much as I enjoy being in the garden, and even doing jobs in the garden, I don’t have the depth of understanding of light and shade, height and colour, soil acidity and drainage, not to mention Latin names and all the other things you need to know about in order to tend a garden well. As much as I might wish it to be otherwise, I’m not a gardener.
One of the first job descriptions given to humans in the Bible is to ‘till and keep’ the garden of Eden. Now as we know Adam and Eve didn’t do a brilliant job, eating the forbidden fruit in the first act of environmental destruction. Ever since then, humans have struggled to live up to the task of caring for, rather than abusing, the natural world. The Victorian poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins once watched a stand of trees being cut down and recorded the incident in his poem ‘Binsey Poplars’, saying of nature: ‘Even where we mean to mend her we end her’.
As global resources become more and more stretched, as the disconnect between eating and food production increases, as children—and adults—spend less and less time outdoors, we have somehow lost that original calling to ‘till and keep’ the garden, to be good stewards of the land in which we are placed.
And yet now, perhaps more than ever, the land needs us to be good stewards. The land needs us to care for it, to stand up for it, to respect it. This is not a task for just a few dedicated individuals, it’s the original vocation of all people on earth. So perhaps I am a gardener after all.
Can you make time to care for some small part of God’s creation today?
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Rev. Rich Clarkson is Rector of five rural parishes in North Shropshire. He has degrees in Physics and Theology and recently completed his Master’s dissertation on Nature Contemplation in the writing of Maximus the Confessor. He is a member of the Lichfield Diocese Environmental Group, a JRI associate – and dad to three wild boys!