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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tending the Garden

Voltaire (an influential French novelist of the 18th Century) ended his work Candide by having him tend his garden. This comes after a novel full of adventure, and Candide trying to save and help the world. For those who have gardens, the tendency is always to retreat to such a place of quiet, solitude, and maybe even predictability. It is a blessing to have a garden, or any retreat place in one's life.
As I was reading about the garden of Eden in scripture the other day, it occurred to me that according to that story at least, we no longer live in a garden. Where do we live then? The world? A neighborhood? A house? Are we all--as with Adam and Eve-- banished to toil and labor? I remember a teacher of mine who remarked that God made work just to kill that so?
I know we live in a world that values work, primarily because that is how we afford to live. Rare are the people who can live without working, and even those who could most seemingly pull it off, often are some of our hardest workers. Strange world we live in...
What is the difference between tending a backyard garden and working from 7 am-3 pm in the coal mines and power plants of Beulah, ND? I suppose the pressure is less...the tomatoes prefer regular watering, but what are they going to do if you forget? Die? What about work, if you forget there, who dies? Maybe it's not so much about the pressure as it is a different kind of time? Gardens work on the sun and moon time, the warm and cold time, the wet and dry times of our lives. The mines, well, as 24/7 operations, every hour is the same, and in its sameness lies its productivity...gardens are just the opposite.
Gardens need the diversity, the ebb and flow, the cycles of time that come from the creative energy of God. I suppose at some level so do the mines, but that's harder to see in the mechanized world of a power plant...
Maybe that's why gardens are so important to folks...the time is a different kind of time, and that kind of time "garden time" let's call it, is important for us. That time allows us to connect with ourselves, our world, our neighborhood, maybe even God. That kind of time that is...what? Heaven? (I see worship as that kind of time, and it works from the ebb and flow of life rather than the mechanized rituals of modernity.) Gardens can be just about anywhere, if they work on a different time, but place is important too, I guess. (I've lived in so many places and traveled so much, though, that I'm not a big "place" person.) And not everybody has a garden...and that's problematic to me, especially if it means that they cannot take time to live time differently...because (and here's the kicker for this blog) I don't have a garden, but I long for one, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why...maybe that is what the story of Eden is all about: how to live time differently when you're no longer tending the Garden?

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