I was walking by the edge of my garden when I saw the little rocks that came up when we were tilling the garden last spring. We tried to lay them up as a pretty edge, but as winter went along the shoveling and snowblowing just made them look like a muddy mess in the midst of where the vegetables will grow. I don’t mean a little mess. Just take a look at that mess!
Mud, stones, needles, leaves, and other crud. Yuck! What a mess! It made me immediately want to borrow a tiller and get to work on the garden. It may seem warm out, but there’s still snow from that giant storm a few feet away.
This messiness gets under my skin at some level, but to be honest, I’m not sure it has anything to do with the actual mess. It is just a garden. Meanwhile, the world around us is filled with bigger messes. Think for a moment about the broken places of the world. Violence in places like Cincinnati, London, and Mosul. Hungry folks going without while restaurants fill dumpsters with good food that they won’t share for fear of a lawsuit. I even saw a picture online of a guy waiting underneath a breaking Wal-Mart sign hoping the letter would fall, injure him, and give him a chance to make a fortune through a lawsuit. I really hope that one was photoshopped.
The world around us is filled with injustice and people who seek their own welfare at the direct expense of others. It is a dirty and rotten world sometimes. The mud, rocks, and muck seem to pile up everywhere and it can be hard to find beauty in the midst of all the frustrating wickedness we see in the world.
I find hope in passages like Psalm 37: (NRSV)
“Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers, for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret–it only leads to evil. For the wicked shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.”
I find hope in these words. I could get all worked up about the garden, but there’s a wisdom to patience. Instead of pointing out the very obvious meaning of these words, let’s look at what is happening in another part of the garden. Here’s what the garlic patch looks like after a long winter…
Yes, the strawberries are invading, but they’ll be fine with the garlic. Yes, the stones might be sinking in a bit, but they’re still there. Underneath the snow they waited for spring to come. Now that it is here, they can do their job of reminding me not to mow over the strawberries and garlic. Even when all seems yucky in one part of the garden, in another there is still order and goodness at play.
May I invite you to keep your eyes open for the places in the world where God is at work in our midst? May I invite you to take a deep breath and be still before God when the world seeks to overwhelm you with wickedness? May I remind you that the grass may be green and the herb may grow quickly, but they are only here for a season.
Someday the plowshares will be forged from sources of pain and sorrow. One glorious day there will be no need for the things we grasp so tightly for our defense. May God hasten that day and give us patience in the meantime. May God teach us to share and to fight for justice. May we help bring food to the hungry and wisdom to the people waiting below signs. May God bless us as we seek to make the world a more lovely garden.