Tending the garden

Recently one of the readings from Isaiah reminded us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.” (Is 55:8) Our reflections are limited due to our humanity. Even when we pursue a life of faith, it can be difficult to recognize God’s work and will unfolding. We apply earthly success and accomplishments as our expectations. And if God’s thoughts and ways are beyond us, certainly His timing is very different than ours would be. 

Reading the full passage from Isaiah, we hear that God sends rain and snow to water the earth to make it fertile for plants to grow and produce the harvest. It’s not just one time that it rains or snows, and it’s not just one drop either. As much as plants need water, they also need a proportionate amount of sunshine. Plants take time to grow, needing insects and birds to pollinate the flowers that will bear the fruit. Snow and vegetation seem like opposite ends of the spectrum. Usually snow indicates winter and dormancy in plants, especially those that bear produce. Yet, it is both the rain and the snow that God sends that makes the ground fertile. And just like with the plants, our efforts to live a life according to God’s will take time. We also must face the possibility that the harvest of God’s will may be beyond our own lifetime. 

The analogy of the plant is very simplistic, and while we grasp the general meaning, we need to remember the plant has a singular purpose. Human life is much more complicated and the focus is on relationships: with God, our families, our friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. It’s as if each relationship is one of those plants that is watered by God. To do God’s will, we need to tend each plant in the garden. How successful are we in bringing the love of God to each of these relationships? Rather than looking externally for success, perhaps we should look at our everyday interactions and try to bring a little extra joy to our encounters, taking time to listen to what others are saying, and being present in the moment. Maybe we need to do a little weeding and remove the negativity that creeps into our thoughts and words. 

God lavishly showers blessings down upon us. Rather than rejecting them for not meeting our expectations, let us look upon the things, people and events placed on our path as opportunities to reflect God’s love and cultivate the Kingdom of God on earth. 

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