Monthly Archives: July 2014

Strolling Through God’s Garden and Mine

Our gardenOur garden often beckons me to come see. Fortunately, I’m at a time of life where it’s possible to heed its siren song, to take a leisurely stroll with much stopping to check out how things are growing. You know what I mean; what new flower is in bloom, which ones need dead-heading, where do the beds need weeding? I’ll take a minute or two to nod at the cheerful shasta daisies and smile at the vivacious fiesta flowers.

I don’t neglect the vegetable garden in my meanderings. Do the cucumber leaves hide any baby cukes? Any ripe tomatoes? Any bugs on the potatoes? Has the Swiss chard grown enough to yield another cutting?

On summer evenings, warm and fine,
when work is done and time is mine,
when sun glows rich on leaf and vine,
I wander round my garden. (Margaret Ingall)

After my jaunt, I return inside refreshed for the tasks I’ve left behind. My garden yields much more than bouquets of blooms and tasty veggies. It refreshes, revives, and recharges my spirit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery day the garden changes just a little. And that is as it should be, for it is full of growing things. Which reminds me that we also need to grow a little every day as we meander through God’s garden of verses—the Bible. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”(2 Peter3:18). There may be “respectable” sins we have not yet uncovered. Or, one or more of the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control—may be stunted or missing from our life.

We may need to take a leisurely stroll through the Psalms, sit still and imbibe the wisdom of the Sermon on the Mount, or ponder the parables. And as we stroll through God’s garden, we can pick thoughts to adorn our lives, truths to restore passion to our flagging spirits, promises to lift us from despair or doubt, Delphiniumguidance on how to be more fruitful.

Many have suggested the importance of systematically reading through the whole Bible, in a year or two. We would be very wise to have such a plan; perhaps daily reading a chapter or two from each Testament. I recently re-read Genesis in combination with Revelation and was astonished again at the stories of creation and covenant on the one hand and prophecies of the future, on the other. They brought me back to basics.

LupinscloseSometimes, however, we need to be more relaxed in our reading. To linger longer over a few verses or a single psalm; letting the Holy Spirit open a passage more deeply to our soul. The main thing we should keep in mind is that like Adam and Eve walking with God in the cool of the day, we need to daily walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit through His Garden of Revelation.


Our Love/Hate Relationship With Nature

???????????????????????????????Mary Helen champions the rights of squirrels. “Honey, just let them eat. They work so hard to get your bird seed.”

Unlike Mary Helen, I’m in constant conflict with our squirrels. Our aggressive squirrels, black and grey, repeatedly knock down the finch feeder, even though they’re not finches. Then there is the main feeder that I’d set up to feed our feathered friends: cardinals, nuthatches, rose-breasted grosbeaks, chickadees. The squirrels leapt from the deck the ten or twelve feet to the feeder where they proceeded to ???????????????????????????????empty it in spite of a circular squirrel baffle I’d installed so they couldn’t climb the pole. So I moved the pole three feet farther. No problem, the grey squirrels leapt the distance, knocking it to the ground and breaking the feeder.

This meant war. I went to the local hardware store and invested in a fancy squirrel proof feeder. True, the squirrels—so far—have not have not been able to get into the main storage area. But where I hung it from the eaves trough, they placidly clung to the wire grid and munched away. The store of seed quickly diminished. I decided to ???????????????????????????????go back to the drawing board.

So I designed what I thought was an ingenious way to keep the squirrels out of the seed: a pole with a round baffle to keep them from climbing and the feeder on a moveable arm so I could raise it high above the ground. After installation, I sat back and smiled at my ingenuity.

Lo and behold, within a few hours the grey squirrel found a way to leap onto the top of thiGrey squirrel on squirrel proof feeder?????????s new-fangled invention and munch away. How? I’ve no idea. Is it a magician?

And not satisfied to deplete the regular seed, both varieties of squirrels curl around the finch feeder and using their tiny tongues tease out the miniscule niger seed. I’ve obviously lost the war. Mary Helen tells me to give up and just admire their ingenuity and perseverance. “Doesn’t James say that the testing of your faith develops perseverance?” (James 1:3) Touche

What about chipmunks? Mary Helen loves them. “They’re so cute,” she says.???????????????????????????????

“But,” I reply, “They’re eating the coriander seed, the buds off flowers, and digging up the tulip bulbs. They also dig up peas and sunflower seeds as fast as I plant them. They even feast on half-ripe tomatoes!”

“But they’re so cute,” she repeats.

“True, they’re cute,” I admit. “But they do a lot more damage than garter snakes.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMary Helen’s attitude changes in an instant. “Snakes, I can’t stand snakes. You’ve got to kill them.”

“But they get rid of insects and other pests,” I reply. “And they’re harmless to us.”

“I don’t care. What if they come inside!”

Irrational, I think, but don’t say, as I admit defeat on all fronts.







We Need Wild Nature

Sugar MapleTall, mature trees almost completely encircle our property. Giant poplar, white pine, maple, oak, beech, hemlock and cedar. Purposely, we’ve left the underbrush beneath them to grow wild. Why? Partly, it’s a shortage of energy and resources to tame the wildness resident there. Mainly though, it’s a desire to live near something wild and natural.

True, our house is surrounded by lawn and gardens where we even have space to grow some vegetables. And, yes, I have made a pathway through the woods to the stream at the back of our property. So it’s not all wild. But it’s quiet, peaceful and private. The domain of squirrels and chipmunks and raccoons and wild turkeys and a host of birds. We have neighbours, but none are visible.

This year, as we lounge on our deck, we remark more than ever what a soothing??????????????????????????????? benediction it is to rest our eyes on the curtain of green that surrounds us. To listen to birds cavorting in and out of the branches. To let our eyes trace the trunk of an 80 foot tall white birch as it reaches for the sky. To watch the breeze make the trembling aspen dance. To hear the soft gurgle of our stream.

Most of us live in cities surrounded by concrete and skyscrapers or commute to and from suburbs filled with cookie-cutter houses crammed cheek by jowl. We’re busy rushing here and there. Our lives are scheduled to the max and full of noise. ??????????????????????We become captive to our computers and cell phones and gadgets. And it’s all good. It’s a convenient way to live and work.

But most of us feel the need from time to time to get away from it all. Summer is a great time to do that. To visit some place that is not imprisoned in concrete. To hike through meadows that have not surrendered to industrial farming. To sit on the shore of a lake and read a book. To climb a mountain. To hike a trail through wild forests. To dip our feet in the vast untamed ocean. To cruise down a great river.june-presquile-035

There is something rejuvenating about exposing ourselves to nature where it is relatively unspoiled by human schemes; closer to the way God created it. At least, that’s the way I see it.

In many ways, this has been a difficult year. We put our property up for sale last year. Fortunately, it didn’t sell. The Lord knew we needed a leafy sanctuary where we could see more clearly His creative hand and thus learn to trust him more.

???????????????????????????????So, why not use summer, or winter for that matter, to find a place where you can be more open to the message of God’s creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge”(Psalm 19:1,2). “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made”(Romans 1:20).