In reading a text and preparing a sermon, there’s always lots that ends up on the cutting room floor. We’re focusing on rivers this week in worship, so an extended bit on gardens couldn’t really be shoe-horned in. But in reading about the creation story in Genesis 2, I ran across this reflection on gardens that was just too good to keep to myself.…there are lovely suggestions in [the story of the Garden of Eden] which come down undimmed by time. The Lord God would be “walking in the garden.” Taken literally and put in prose, that is childlike and naive, but as poetry it is immortal. In the miracle of nature God always does appear. Man can fashion many things, but only God creates that on which all life depends. In the meadows and the forest he still is walking. Even in the little places of fertility and growth he will appear. Whether then in the great spaces of the earth or in the familiar spots which men make their own, a garden and the thought of God come close together. For a garden, to begin with, is a place of beauty especially–as that instinctive sense of wonder repeated in the ancient story saw it–“in the cool of the day.” Who that has walked in a garden has not had moments when he felt a mightier Presence walking there when suset fades, and the soft air of evening is sweet with the scent of grass and flowers, and the dew begins to fall, and the stars are born out of the still mystery of the oncoming night? …The best in man’s nature cannot live without beauty. …If in a garden there is beauty, so there also is the miracle of growth. It is good to have something remind us anew and repeatedly of that miracle. Remember how often Jesus was aware of it…In a garden the everlasting facts are plain; there truth walks and may be heard as the voice of God was heard in Eden when he walked among the trees. Reflect upon what that voice is telling: that what ultimately appears, of beauty or of ugliness, depends upon the seed, and that the heart of man, like the ground, can produce nothing unless it has received from God, and planted in itself, those influences which have in them the miracle of life; that the responsibility of every man is like the gardener’s, to know that though he creates nothing he is responsible to cultivate what God has given; that growth cannot be forced by any human haste and that the silent process of the divine unfolding must be trusted; and that those who have grown most in grace, like men who must have their gardens grow in sun and rain and changing seasons, will be most humble in themselves and most reverent before the unfolding mysteries of God. by Walter Russell Bowie, from The Interpreter’s Bible vol. 1 (New York: Abingdon, 1952) pp 494-496.
They don’t write commentaries quite like that anymore.
On another note entirely, who knew Elvis recorded a version of the old hymn In the Garden?