Reading Isaiah 58:11 reminds me of the nursery rhyme:
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silverbells and cockle shells
All in a row.
I grew up in rural Maxton, North Carolina, during the 1980s. We did not see families like ours on television, and I felt our family must be inferior to the “normal” families portrayed on TV. But now, looking back, I chuckle when I realize how wrong I was! Ours was a beautiful and eclectic childhood filled with life, love, and flowers!
My mother was a homemaker and a master gardener. She owned and operated a plant and flower nursery called “Roxie’s Flowers.” We grew azaleas, boxwoods, red tips, roses, and any other stick she could get to root. We grew silverbells, too. The seashells were used to raise the soil’s pH level, making it less acidic and more beneficial for the roots. The bluebells were never planted in a row! They needed the shade of the gum trees momma incorporated into her garden’s design. Her garden adapted to the natural contour of the land so the flowers could thrive!
The exiled people were instructed to build gardens on the land they were placed. God told them to plant, grow, and harvest in foreign fields. This new way of living required them to adapt new gardening practices to the old farm practices they remembered from home. These are new gardening practices they could have never imagined using in Israel. You and I are called by the “God of the harvest” to plant in the land we have settled.
What makes your garden grow?
Lord of the harvest, plant in us a desire to cultivate beautiful works of beauty wherever we find ourselves. Amen
Rev. Mattheue Locklear is the pastor at Sandy Plains UMC and First UMC in Pembroke