‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.’ Psalms 19:1-2 (NIV)
Nature is full of unexpected gifts. In our community garden in Bristol we have a climbing rose that is bright purple. We didn’t plant it and we don’t look after it. It’s just here. It has crawled up an apple tree and displays its amazing colour all the way at the top of the tree. In fact you can only see it if you look really closely from one angle. It brings me great joy when it blooms. Another gift is the lemon balm that has grown out of the side of a raised bed. A passerby might think it was a weed. But rub it and smell your fingers for an explosive whiff of lemon – what an unexpected gift!
It’s not just plants that bring joy and surprise in our garden. A number of families have resettled in Bristol from Hong Kong and to our delight have begun to work with us in our garden. And what a gift they have been! They’ve shared their knowledge of different plants and we are looking forward to planting Chinese cabbage and bean sprouts together next year. Another unexpected gift is finding that in the garden, nature becomes a common language between us; we work together, kids play together, and we grow together over our raised beds. It has been an unexpected gift to see how through creation we can naturally connect as a community with our creator Jesus.
Psalms 19:1-2 says, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.’ The way creation is ordered helps us see who God is. How amazing is that! This means that as we destroy creation through over-consuming, thus creating a climate emergency, we are taking away the opportunity for people to see God. We are also decreasing the amazing surprises and gifts that God gives to us through the earth. We get to see the wonderful gift of a rogue rose or lemon balm. We lose the connection that nature brings to a shared language around growing and engaging with creation.
I encourage you to look for the surprises God has for us through biodiverse land and community. That we will engage with the earth and learn about God and each other.
This reflection was written by Rev. John White. John is Founder of our Partner in Action Hazelnut Community Farm in Bristol, and organiser of the Sustaining Church conference. John has also started Potting Shed a course for Churches or groups wanting to start a growing project in their community. The program starts this January.