Tag Archives: Gardener

Green God

If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you? You may destroy only the trees that you know do not produce food; you may cut them down for use in building siegeworks against the town that makes war with you, until it falls.
Deuteronomy 20:19-20 (NRSV)

One of the things that I have quietly gained as a life long fan and student of J.R.R. Tolkien is an appreciation for trees. Tolkien loved trees and his expression of love is woven throughout his works. In his creation story, there are two trees, gold and silver, which produced light. When evil destroys the trees their fruit become the sun and moon.

Throughout the Lord of the Rings you find Tolkien’s love of trees expressed through Old Man Willow, the ents, and through the elves who dwell in the forests and carry the blessings of all things that grow. Those who are evil, like the wizard Saruman and his minions, fell the trees and destroy the forests to fuel their war machine and generally tear down that which is good. As a result, it is the trees embodied by the Ents and the mysterious forest of Huorns who rise up against evil and help usher in an unexpected victory in The Two Towers.

So it is that I read with keen interest God’s command to the ancient Hebrew in today’s chapter. The army was not to fell any tree that was living and bearing fruit. When laying siege to an enemy city, they could eat the fruit of the surrounding trees but were forbidden from cutting them down to use in building siege engines and utensils of war. Only trees which were already dead could be used for such purposes.

I am reminded this morning that our Creator and artist God began His work on earth with a garden, and at the center of the garden He placed a very special tree. The vision of the end given to us in John’s revelation likewise makes special mention of a tree:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2

I am not much of a gardener and I often joke of having a “brown thumb.” Yet, along life’s journey I have grown to appreciate that God, like Tolkien, is a gardner and a lover of trees. If I am to be like Him, then I must grow to love, appreciate, and protect gardens and trees and the living things that grow in His creation.

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featured image: The Tree of Life , Gustav Klimt

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 27

Still clinging. "At that same time, a fine vineyard will appear. There's something to sing about! I, God, tend it. I keep it well-watered. I keep careful watch over it so that no one can damage it. I'm not angry. I care. Even if it gives me thistles and thornbushes, I'll just pull them out and burn them up. Let that vine cling to me for safety, let it find a good and whole life with me, let it hold on for a good and whole life." Isaiah 27:2-5 (MSG) 

Jesus said he is the vine. I am this vine. I am Isaiah's vine. I soak up God's tender care, his life-giving water, and his faithful watchfulness. In return I've given Him thistles and thorns. So often I have rewarded his loving care with sour grapes. Nevertheless, He keeps loving, keeps tending, keeps watering, keeps pruning.

Still, I'm clinging to Him for safety. And, I'm finding goodness and wholeness. Seasons pass. Old things pass away. New things come. Each year is a new vintage.

God, let my life be a vineyard that produces the choicest of wines that, in turn, reflects your skill as the Master Gardener.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and hodge

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 24

A beautiful sight. Earth is polluted by its very own people, who have broken its laws, Disrupted its order, violated the sacred and eternal covenant. Therefore a curse, like a cancer, ravages the earth. Its people pay the price of their sacrilege. Isaiah 24:5-6 (MSG)

A few years ago I went to see an exhibition of Iowa artists. I ran across a simple landscape of a cornfield drawn with pastels. I was surprised by the emotional reaction I had to the picture, and how beautiful it was to me. I'm sure a lot of people looked at it and muttered, "It's just a stupid cornfield."

That experience of standing in front of that beautiful pastel taught me a lot about who I am. Though raised in the city, I am a child of Iowa. I've never been a farmer. I have a "brown thumb." Yet, my life has been framed by the never ending cyclical seasons of tilling, planting, weeding, detasseling, and harvesting. I have a real appreciation for agriculture. It's all around me. It's part of who I am.

Today, I'm reminded that man's first home on Earth was a garden, and the first occupation given to man was that of a gardener. Our responsibility to care for God's creation goes back to Adam and Eve, and I don't believe that responsibility was ever taken from us. When we ignore our responsiblity to the Earth, we pay the price for it.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and toddandd