To Everything…There is a Season

– Andy Wade –

fall gardenSitting in my office, gazing into my garden sanctuary, it would be easy to be disheartened today. The skies are gray, rain is falling, and the garden is turning brown, crying out for serious care before the winter months.

Summer GardenWhat happened to that amazing pallet of color splashed across the backyard? Now, dead sunflowers tower like brown skeletons, picked clean by birds and left as a barren reminder of a season past. A few bright red leaves cling to blueberry bushes, more cover the ground, co-mingling with strawberry leaves of complementary color.

Dotted throughout this once abundant sacred garden are the steadfast ones: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and some lingering lettuce and assorted herbs. The nasturtiums hung on for quite a while, finally yielding to one cold night. A flower here… there… and there again, grasping for one more day of glory before yielding to the inevitable.

Yet with all of this death, I reframe my mind and discover hope. I know that just beneath the soil there are still baskets of potatoes and sun-chokes to dig up. I know that the “steadfast ones” will continue to produce through the winter months. A mysterious dance takes place in my garden sanctuary – death and life waltz before me, choreographed by the one who also orchestrates the song.

Ultimately, I embrace death for what it is: a renewing of the soil, a feeding of my subterranean friends that keep my garden healthy and nutrient rich. A reminder from God’s word… “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

I’ve considered working toward a year-round garden. It’s possible, even here in the middle of the Cascade Range. But there’s something refreshing about rest. All this emphasis on production betrays a kind of sacred trust in the garden sanctuary. I need to learn from the rhythms of nature, the God-ordained seasons of birth, flourishing, abundance, death, rest and renewal.

Even as we approach the season of Advent, of expectation, hope, new life and new possibilities, we do well to hold Lent close by. New life, and all that we hope for, is only possible through death. Advent, the beginning of the church year, points toward the cross… and to resurrection. For me, the garden is a seasonal reminder of this deep, spiritual truth. To fully embrace Advent and Christmas, I must also embrace Lent.

I’m guilty of trying to make God in my own image, an image crafted for me by a society that has lost the art of rest. And I’m guilty of wanting to re-create the world around me, even the quiet places, into that same, hyper-productive image. Ultimately it’s all a frenetic dance to avoid looking into the barren gardens of our souls, the dying, decaying life that must be embraced to grasp hold of real hope for today, and the promise of life to come. A new beauty emerges as I gaze out the window; I begin to hear the music, to see the dance, and to enter into the celebration.