Gardening has become especially popular this year, as people have spent more time at home during the pandemic. My family and I started a simple backyard garden a few months ago. We've been surprised by how much wonder we’ve harvested there.
The cucumbers we planted, for instance, surprised us by sprouting vibrant yellow flowers. For years, we had eaten store-bought cucumbers and never knew that cucumbers produce flowers. The cukes themselves popped up abundantly. For a while there were new ones waiting for us like prizes underneath large green leaves every single day. Our peach tree struggled, but made a comeback after we discovered the source of the problem (a fungus called leaf curl) and treated it carefully. The tree emerged stronger after its ordeal, growing taller and producing deliciously sweet fruit.
In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I explore the wonders of nature, including gardening. Working in a garden puts us in touch with nature in a primal way, evoking awe in our souls. As we grow plants, we immerse ourselves in the wondrous natural system God has designed and see how everything is intricately connected -- the soil, the sun, the water cycle, other organisms, etc. Well-being research shows that, when we nourish gardens, we're nourished ourselves with stress relief, learning, and happiness. Gardening also blesses us with a greater awareness of the possibilities that can grow in our lives when we trust God.
The Bible sets the stories of humanity's fall and redemption in gardens (the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden Tomb). Jesus uses garden images to describe his relationship with us. “I am the true vine and my father is the gardener” (John 15:1) and “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
You can enjoy gardening on any size scale -- from growing a few plants on a tiny apartment patio, to creating an elaborate garden in a large yard or volunteering at a community garden. Simply visiting a botanical garden for a stroll among the flowers and trees is enough to find a fresh encounter with wonder, as well.