Sunday, April 22, 2012

Garden of Eden

When I was a kid, some of my parents' favorite trips and outings were to visit famous and beautiful gardens, such as Buchart Gardens in British Columbia, Descanso Gardens, the Huntington Library, etc., and anywhere else a rose would stand still for my father's camera. He loved photographing gardens and flowers and we still have tons of the photos he took years ago. As a child, though, I found this extremely boring. I'd dutifully pose next to the roses and smile for the camera while secretly terrified that I would get stung by the bees that were buzzing around.

My mother was raised on a farm and never lost her love for tending a vegetable garden. Every summer we would enjoy the fresh veggies from her crops. The best were the asparagus. She loved to tell the story of the asparagus that grew wild along the road by their farm when she was a child. They would often pick some for dinner, if the mailman didn't beat them to it.

In later years when I met my in-laws, I learned that their favorite hobby was tending their quarter-acre yard. They grew every variety of roses, along with exotic orchids and plumeria, two large vegetable gardens, and 16 various fruit trees. Nearly all their free time was spent there, weeding, pruning, planting. It was certainly very nice, but in my mind it was just a lot of hard work -- certainly not my idea of fun.

My perspective changed, though, a few years ago when our family moved back to my childhood home. John & I started spending our weekends lovingly tending the flowers and fruits. I dug up part of the back yard and put in a new flowerbed, planting some of my mother's favorite flowers. We also replaced my dad's rusty old storage shed with a gazebo where we could sit and enjoy the yard. We loved to visit various nurseries and bring back new and exotic plants to add to our garden. I even planted some asparagus, knowing that it would take several years before it was good to harvest. What had seemed like boring hard work had now become our favorite hobby. I loved our garden and wished my dad was still around to see how we had taken such good care of it. He'd probably snap a few photos of my roses.

In the past few months I haven't been well enough to get outside and weed and prune and dig in the dirt like I had been. I really miss that. I think that of the many things I would miss from this life, my garden is near the top of the list. Then I started thinking that surely God has created a magnificent garden for us in heaven. Can you imagine a place tended by God Himself? A place of boundless beauty and tranquility, free of any pollution, contamination, or sin!

I thought about what the original Garden of Eden must have been like, the original, unspoiled creation of God, and what it must have been like for Adam and Eve to walk around that garden, walking and talking with God Himself. That was certainly the ultimate garden experience. And Jesus' favorite place to go and spend time in prayer with His Father was the Garden of Gethsemane. Of course God has taught me over the years many life lessons related to gardening -- how He prunes us at times, which may be painful, but produces more fruit. How we need to be mindful to keep the weeds out of our lives that choke out that fruit.

We've been having some wonderful warm spring weather recently, and I went outside just to walk around my garden and enjoy it. I picked a bag full of avocados, snipped a few sprigs of asparagus, and picked a few roses to enjoy in a vase inside. I inspected the many plants I hadn't been able to tend for awhile and was surprised to find buds and blossoms on many -- even on some cactus I'd never seen bloom. I quietly told my Heavenly Father that I know we'll have a lot of other things to do in Heaven, but I sure hope we'll have plenty of time to enjoy the garden. I heard Him answer me as His words spoke to my heart: "We'll have all eternity."

I can hardly wait.


  1. Hi Erin, we've never met but my daughter Natalie is friends with your son Matt. Natalie sent me your blog this morning and I really enjoyed reading it, thank you! (I never enjoyed gardening as a kid either, but really did when we had our own-funny how that works!) I hope the best for you and your health!

  2. I recently learned something new while reading Genesis 2. In the very next verse after creating Adam, God "planted" a garden! (I have visions of Him digging in the dirt like me!) The very first thing He did after creating man was to make a garden for him! No wonder I love my garden so!
    "The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed... Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." Genesis 2:8, 15.