I first saw this poem in its entirety when I was surrounded by beautiful blooms at Bellingrath Gardens in Alabama. The last stanza will probably be familiar to you, as it timelessly echoes the reveries of every gardener.
THE Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven,
That the hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.
And I dream that these garden closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod
And their lilies and bowers of roses,
Were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth, –
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
by Dorothy Frances Gurney
The garden is fresh in April. No rose has blackspot or mildew. None of the strap-like leaves on the daylilies are sun-scorched. The perennials have all pushed up brand new green shoots and leaves. It truly is a reflection of heaven.
Looking at all these flawless plants makes me want to begin again, to be made new. I have to remind myself that I am! His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:23) Jesus died and rose again to wrap me in a white robe of righteousness! He intercedes for me so that every blight is removed from me again and again . . . so that I may belong in heaven.
I love that the Bible begins in a garden and that Jesus’s special place of rejuvenation was a garden—that He was in the garden praying the night before His crucifixion. It is not so very surprising that Mary mistakes the risen Jesus for a gardener!
Yes, it is fitting that we celebrate Easter during this “perfect” season of the garden–when, rising up out of the old crunchy dead leaves are vibrant shoots singing “life!” I am going outside to plant flowers on this Good Friday, with awareness and awe of the presence and love of the Great Gardener.