It is officially Spring, and Cole and I have our Spring garden in the ground. As I drove to Magnolia on Sunday, I noticed little light green buds on many of the trees along the way. Signs of life. Signs of the earth’s cycle of annual resurrection. We have filled our raised bed, turned up a plot of the grass and put in a new row of plants up against the back of the garage. We still might also fit in a couple rows of corn, and a few planters of herbs somewhere too. With all the new growth in our garden and in the trees around us, it sure feels like Spring and Easter- full of new life and promise.
If you were to venture into our garden, you would notice something very interesting. Parts are perfectly organized in neat rows. Other parts are less linear and fall in zig zags, crooked lines, and uneven spacings. I planted the well-organized parts. Cole planted the freeform parts. This speaks very well to each of our personalities, but it also reminds me of different aspects of God. God appreciated both order and chaos. The book of Job in particular comes to mind, demonstrating this well.
In the whirlwind speeches of Job, God’s answer to Job’s questioning of God’s justice and faithfulness, God describes himself as someone who appreciates both neat rows and freeform design. When the Earth was created God determined the pathways for both rain and thunder even where no one lived. God determined how and where rain would go, to people and to empty places just for grass. (Job 38:25-27)
God also let wild donkeys run crazy and free, going wherever they pleased, listening to no one. (Job 39:5-12) God plays with giant sea monsters that no human could ever come close to defeating. (Job 41:1-11)
God does not let everything run free, but he also does not make everything perfectly ordered. Rather, it is a mix, it is something in between. Things like the rain and seas and fish act freely but only within the boundaries drawn by God. When God created the world, when God created us, he made things and people simultaneously neat and ordered and wild and free.
Last Sunday after church, we gathered with about 17 of us, both children and grownups, to learn more about the Eucharist. We made grape juice, and wafers of many shapes and sizes. We learned about how at this time in our liturgical calendar each year, right before Easter, we hear about Jesus’ final meal with his disciples before his death and resurrection. We talked about tangible means of experiencing God’s grace through bread and wine, about sacraments, about faith, and many other things.
We discussed these things in very orderly, theological ways, and yet made sure to emphasize how we have a God who works in ways much too wonderful for us to understand. The best part is that just like in Spring gardens, just like in the book of Job, and just like the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sin in variously sized wafers and not fully filtered grape juice, God is there. The details and our full comprehension, nor our proclivity for the messy or the organized, are not as important as our willingness to show up, and to meet God in both the tameness and the wild.
So, whether you plant your vegetables in rows or willy nilly, and whether the bread you receive on Sundays to come is a perfect disc or something homemade and a little wilder, I hope you can take comfort in the fact that God did the same when creating and sustaining the Earth. I hope you can experience the love of God and the beauty of God’s creation in Spring so that all our voices, all the organized and messy parts of ourselves, can join in with Job’s-
“Then Job answered the Lord:
‘I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you declare to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.’”
Recognizing that when we look at God and God’s creation, we simultaneously know God and cannot know God. That we feel God’s love and have relationship in faith but that we cannot ourselves know everything. Only God can know it all, things too wonderful for us in this life.