I think of myself as a gardener.
Oh, I’ll never have a green thumb, and you won’t find me reading seed catalogs or shopping at greenhouses. My interests and skills lay elsewhere. Still, I see myself as a gardener, and I try to be a good one.
To that end, I made a commitment to God and to myself that I’ve endeavored to keep, though I’ve experienced many failings. A few years ago, I put this commitment into the following words.
“Lord, I promise to accept and cherish whatever ground you give me to till. I will take the soil as it is, preserve it, and attempt to improve it. I will seek to understand each plant found there, and I will tend each plant so as to help it reach its full growth. I will love each plant for its own sake. To the best of my wisdom and ability, I will guard against one plant taking over the garden and rooting out the others. When I am unsure of what to do, I will refrain from taking action. I will do my best to do no harm. And I will try to remember that the garden belongs not to me but to you.”
I, of course, inhabit a number of gardens: the earth itself, my family, professional circles, a congregation, friendship webs, and the human race to name a few. On my best days, I put on my gardening clothes and go live out the promise I’ve made to God in each of them.
When I accept my God-given role of gardener, what changes about how I treat the world and its people?
Creator God, teach me my place in the world. Help me yearn to become a gardener in your creation, and guide my efforts to make that so. Amen.