“You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
My sister recently bought an old, historic house that she is in the process of renovating for her family. Most exciting was the discovery of a forgotten garden enclosed inside a 200-year old stone wall on the property. We found it overgrown, a tangled mess of branches and intimations of what once was—-but more importantly, what still could be. I asked my sister, “How could the previous owners have let this special place go?” Immediately my imagination was captured by all the ways the old garden could be resurrected. We could begin by pruning the warren of climbing roses and the sprawling invasion of lilac. Next, maybe plant a few rows of fragrant lavender and pungent rosemary, then turn the worn soil and fertilize like crazy. The forgotten hydrangeas may come back. Finally, clean away the bramble to uncover the hidden bed of lovely herbs. I saw so many possibilities for new life.
This is how God looks upon us!
Saint Hildegard of Bingen was a medieval female polymath living at the beginning of the 12th century: Abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, theologian, scientist, healer, saint. She is revered as the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. In 2012, Pope Benedict awarded her the prestigious title, Doctor of the Church. Saint Hildegard viewed the soul as a hidden garden needing to be cultivated and faithfully tended. She wrote passionately of a “greening” of the spiritual acreage within us, or in the words of Isaiah, “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
I am encouraged by Hildegard’s imagery of creating a greenness within oneself. Regardless of what is happening outside of me, whatever life’s external circumstances, whatever the season, or physical state, there is an expanse within, the potential of a “well-watered” garden where I can experience beauty, peace and infinite possibilities.
Over the last couple of weeks, jogging in Percy Warner Park, I have happily enjoyed the gradual greening of the landscape, a witness to the visible resurrection of tree, clover and wildflower. Could there be anything more rewarding and reassuring than the arrival of spring? Nature provides a textbook on resurrection theology, but God’s Blueprint for revival extends out to relationships, perspectives, personal faith, dreams, and certainly the life of the soul upon apparent death. Resurrection is beautifully coded in the programming of every living thing from a miniscule blade of grass to the extraordinary human soul.
The Greek word for resurrection is “ana-stasis”, which translated means “creating a new thing, energy or activity.” Easter gives us permission to rise from grief, to mend our brokenness, to change our perspective, to forgive the unforgiven, to evolve our spiritual personhood, to transcend our materiality—-to hope again and love better.
God is beckoning us to come back to life, full and whole. And then do it again and again. And again!
Recently, I was at a spiritual conference in New Mexico led by Richard Rohr. Referencing Paul, he reassured us that nothing of God ever dies, only transforms. The Divine is eternally budding within all things. It is up to us whether we choose to bloom.
Imagine the Creator’s smile when a verdant new bud begins transforming a relationship, or a kinder perspective, or a dream pursued again, and most especially in a deeper devotion to Him. Easter is not only the miracle that took place over 2,000 years ago. Yes, God raised Jesus from the dead. And mortality is not the end of your story. But another kind of resurrection right now is possible. Change is all around you in the spring reawakening. Can you open yourself to your own reawakening? I believe with all my heart that God will never let anything good die. God just won’t allow such waste. Therefore we cannot permit fear, doubt or a need for control to limit God’s imagination, love and supernatural plan for you and me. We must not stand in the way of our own rebirth.
“Easter “is the code name for God’s infinite blueprint for creation, where resurrection is our everyday reality. To soulfully embrace a theology of resurrection is to fearlessly pray for God to never stop creating new life in us here and forever!
Remember the “forgotten garden” on the falling-down property that for whatever reason was left untended. Is your life like that, your sense of self and purpose, your marriage, your health, or a significant relationship, or even your faith in God? Nothing is beyond God’s reach to resurrect. The miracle of a “well-watered” internal garden is that it will inevitably and happily spill out like a lush vine over the stone wall, and through any gate transforming our relationships, our work, our hopeful vision of the world, and evolving faith. Goodness produces more goodness, hope multiplies more hope, and love upholds all.
Always God’s response: “What are you waiting for!”
Do not fear change, or death, or anything coming your way. Instead focus on the possibilities. As Walt Whitman said so beautifully: “All goes onward and outward…and nothing fully collapses. And to die is different from what any one supposed, and much luckier.”
On Easter, we especially thank Jesus for this gift.
How does your inner garden grow? Easter is your invitation to participate in the daily divine process of resurrection. Always there is room within for God to work a new thing in your life. Nothing is final. However your inner garden looks at this moment, know that God is sitting on the ragged edge working an Easter miracle on your plot of green. Let this be your Easter prayer:
I will no longer stand in Your way.
Please create a new thing in my life today.
Make resurrection my sweet present, and eternal future reality.
A beautiful read for Easter: The Cosmic Christ by Richard Rohr