Spring comes slowly to Colorado. The yard is starting to wake up—shoots branch off from trees and the new-last-year lilac bush unfurls new stems. The roses are sending out new leaves on top of dead wood. But the grass is still dry and the air has a cold rawness to it.
Still, I know spring and summer are on the way and my garden will again hum with cone flower, mouse-eared coreopis and jewel-colored dianthus. I yearn to be out in the dirt, sculpting my little patch of earth. Gardening is at once relaxing to me and anxiety-producing. I plan, I work and I fret—but there is a feeling like no other when the flower boxes are full and buds pop everywhere.
For Easter Sunday today, my pastor preached on “Resurrection Peace.” I told him after the service it was one of his best sermons. Afterward, I hoped that he didn’t think I complimented him reflexively, like one would compliment an attractive Easter dress. What I meant to say (but could not in the crush of things) was that his preaching had opened my eyes and mind to a corner of Christianity I had never considered.
He spoke on the 20th chapter of John where Mary sees the resurrected Jesus but at first thinks she’s talking to the gardener. And she is—Pastor Jim made the connection between the first garden where Adam and Eve walked with God in the “cool of the day;” to the Garden of Gesthsemane where Jesus sweated blood; and the garden where Mary is heartbroken and then wild with joy.
I like thinking about the first garden and its perfection. I love gardens–the rich, hanging blooms. The white-green stalks alive with purpose. The heavy-headed blossoms. What it must have been to walk about with God in a place of perfection, with no wanting.
But here we are instead. In a place of real wanting. Where nothing is perfect and bodies break down and decay. We are all dying, all spinning on our frantic tops. Later in the same chapter of John, Jesus appears to his disciples who are huddled together, doors shut tight. “Peace” he says. He repeats this word to his disciples once they, too, see that he is alive. Peace is what the Lord is bringing to the garden of our lives. Peace is contained in us through the Holy Spirit, when we love him.
It dawns on me in the pew that perhaps I am missing the garden. That I am yearning to get back to the garden, to Paradise. All of the toil, the sweat, the seed catlalogs, the digging and weeding is just my soul’s way of pointing toward one more example in which this world is lacking. It’s a dirt signpost, signaling that even in the pleasure of seed and bloom, I am not home. No, I am not home at all.
I need some of that Resurrection Peace. I need urgently to stand in the presence of Jesus and hear the word, “Peace.” And then I need to be in the garden with Jesus, tending the plants and turning over the beds, handing off the bent and twisted, half-dead blooms that have no place in such a paradise of peace.