Summer is the time when many of us like to be outside in the garden, or amongst the wide spaces of the open air. From time to time, the ‘Observer’ draws our attention to garden Open Days, when dedicated enthusiasts share their creative delights with the community, often in aid of worthy causes.
Gardens can provide a sense of peace and relaxation in our busy lifestyles, a welcome space to enjoy the company of family and friends, or perhaps to be alone with one’s thoughts, or simply to be at one with nature and the divine. There are Gardens of Remembrance, Gardens of Rest, of Peace and of Hope; settings to link with a greater beyond. The seclusion of a garden can help us reflect or de-stress, offering therapy to our souls.
The opening pages of our Bibles portray a scene of perfection – the Garden of Eden, but harmony is ruined by the selfish and wilful choices of its privileged inhabitants. This characterizes us, the human race. We have freewill, but so often abuse it, spoiling life for ourselves and others. The rest of the scriptures go on to explain how, despite our frequent failures, the Almighty in his supreme love for mankind, wants to bring us to ultimate perfection. This he is wonderfully bringing about through the gift of his Son, who lived a human life like us, but never made a wrong choice.
We are taken in the gospels to another garden: the Garden of Gethsemane. In an agony of decision making, Jesus allowed God to take precedence over his own inclinations. Sometimes we too might come to a crisis point in life and a hard decision has to be faced. Perhaps the Garden of Gethsemane could help us in such extreme situations, when the only thing to do is to commit our lives to an ultimate goodness far beyond our own resources.
In the finish, the Bible brings us back to the image of a garden with its symbolic tree of life in God’s paradise (interestingly, this word derives from ‘garden’). It evokes all that is perfect about the promised Kingdom of God, a transformed world beyond our imagining. As another page of the holy book declares, ‘No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.’ Surely that’s something worth pondering while sitting peacefully in the garden – or wherever.