“This is the garden: colors come and go,
Frail azures fluttering from night’s outer wing,
Strong silent greens serenely lingering,
Absolute lights like baths of golden snow.
This is the garden: pursed lips do blow
Upon cool flutes within wide glooms, and sing
Of harps celestial to the quivering string,
Invisible faces hauntingly and slow.
This is the garden. Time shall surely reap
And on Death’s blade lie many a flower curled,
In other lands where other songs be sung;
Yet stand They here enraptured, as among
The slow deep trees perpetual of sleep
Some silver-fingered fountain steals the world.”
–e.e. cummings 1917
Ah, yes. The beauty, humbling charm and grace of a piece of land that has been painstakingly plowed, cleared and cultivated to bring forth a fusion of color, scent and sight. And all for the entertainment of those who stop, gaze and take it all in.
The gardens at St. Nicholas are taking shape…that is, for this year. Gardens are mirror images, if you will, of a community. A community takes new shape and develops depth one year to the next and so does a garden grow. Not in one season, nor two, but year after year does the garden mature. In those days of searing, summer heat and the coolness of autumn evenings and throughout the bitter cold of winter’s hibernation there is something happening. The garden throughout these seasons is giving birth and dying, laying dormant, sleeping and slumbering until come spring when all bursts forth. Does not our community undergo similar circumstances? We celebrate new life, whether a baby is born or a new member comes to the church. And do we not grieve the deaths that come our way; when dear, loved ones pass on to their eternal reward in Paradise? The ebb and tide of a community of faith certainly mimics the growth, death and yet again, the growth and death that a garden experiences. Gardens change from year to the next as new colors and growth change and alternate places. So does our community as from one day to the next, from one month to the next and from one year to the next, we evolve, we grow, we change, new friends come and some stay while merely visit, some move on to other ports and some leave us for ever and go Home to God.
But still, we celebrate and rejoice. For just as the Sign of Peace during the Liturgy is an exchange and an expression of our faith and the love we hold one to another, a garden blesses us with such gifts that dizzy our senses and send us to new heights. Gardens are an expression and an exchange from nature’s grandeur to humankind. A garden is an offering both from the Creator and back to God, whose mighty finger first planted the gardens to the east of Eden. And we, in our efforts plant and care, enjoy and savor the gardens that are taking shape here at St. Nicholas. “To cultivate a garden is to walk with God.” (Christian Bovee). Let’s not think too far ahead of what to expect next season. That will come when the seasons turn and the earth is ready for more planting and tilling and all that has been asleep deep in the dark, rich soil is ready to awaken. Let’s just enjoy what is here and now and celebrate the beauty that is gift to us just as we are called to celebrate and be gift to one another.