May 01, 2015

The kiss of sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s Heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Dorothy Frances Gurney

As I write on this glorious spring morning, I have gardening on my mind. Birds are singing, the trees are bursting into bloom, my pots of petunias and geraniums are brightly beckoning, and wildflowers are beginning to show up – I have to coax Cokie to stop and look as we walk – life is bursting out all around us, and it’s wonderful!

At the same time, I have packets of seeds that haven’t even been opened, and I’m waiting just a bit until I put tomatoes, basil, nasturtiums and rosemary into their pots. There is weather to come, and timing is essential; I’m content to wait. To everything there is a season…

Barbara Brown Taylor, in Learning to Walk in the Dark, p 129, says: New life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark. Sometimes that new life starting in the dark may be happening in resting, or in knitting in a way that’s not seen, or in greening sprouts or buds… all of it is necessary for the process of coming into fullness of being!

Just so, we too, as St. Philip-in-the-Field, have had and will continue to have times of growth in the darkness, times of seeing the growth and new life as that which has been taking place in darkness breaks the ground and becomes visible to us. And then will come the time of flowering, fruiting, and eventually, seeding.

Take a moment and imagine both yourself and St. Philip-in-the-Field as a garden… what do you see? Where are we in this cycle of life? Scripture is ripe with the imagery of bear- ing fruit, planting seeds, watering those seeds, and sending forth the fruits and planting new seeds – Jesus spoke this language and it is rich indeed! In one of my favorite parables, Jesus likens the kingdom of God to the mustard seed, the smallest and most humble thing, which becomes a mighty tree, nurturing and providing rest and safety for all manner of life!

See Mark 4:3-32.

I have been thinking of this as Katherine and I have been looking at questions about our parish and our life as part of the work we do with CDI, the diocese’s Congregational Development Institute. Where do you see us? What might you do to help in this growing garden? How best do we tend our small seeds, allowing God to do the great work of bringing them to life, so that they grow and spread this Life of God to all the corners of the earth? All ideas welcome!

The month of May is filled with celebrations – Confirmations, Mother’s Day and Rogation Days, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Graduations, Memorial Day Weekend – and in the midst of those celebrations we will still be looking ahead, praying, and discerning where we go next, how we grow and serve and enter more fully and with joy the plan God has for us. This is the work of growing the garden, and it is blessed indeed for:

One is nearer God’s Heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Hallelujah, Amen!
With Blessings and Love,
Vicar Janet