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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Whose Garden?

Dear Ones,

"Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars,
   and spreads its wings toward the south?
Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
   and makes its nest on high?
It lives on the rock and makes its home
   in the fastness of the rocky crag.
From there it spies the prey;
   its eyes see it from far away.
Its young ones suck up blood;
   and where the slain are, there it is."
- Job 39:26-30

That text of Job is in quotes. Someone is speaking. Can you remember who speaks thus in Job's grand story of misfortune and fate? It is part of the song God sings - or hollers - at Job when God decides to set the record straight. The speech is another of the creation stories, among the many in the Bible, and this one comes from the very voice of God!

I love these passages. God is upbraiding Job (although God's real targets are Job's “learned friends") with a voice dripping with sarcasm...and yet poetry. "Is it by your wisdom" is sarcastic. Then notice the beauty of "that the hawk soars, and spreads its wings toward the south?" "Is it at your command," is sarcastic. "That the eagle mounts up and makes its nest on high," is beautiful.

Then something even more compelling happens in the passage. God loses it. God is caught in wonder at creation even though it is the work of God's own word, God's own will. The voice 
seems to lose track of the scolding and go off in another direction entirely, marveling at how the hawk hunts and how its "young ones" are fed. Do you hear it? God is in love with all that is created. God's delight and awe in the face of nature is overwhelming even to God; just like it is to you!

Earlier this summer, I noticed that some of our church garden vegetables were nibbled to the nub. I suspected a few local residents. In particular, I had my eye on the groundhog who lives under the Grace Church shed. I did not forget to suspect the bunny (undoubtedly one of many) who is fond of the grass that grows beneath the elevated garden, where the lawnmower doesn't go. I also had the seemingly infinite number of turkeys who make a daily promenade through the field on my list. Only just now am I considering that deer, chipmunks, mice, opossums, racoons, skunks, and squirrels are also potential diners, although I haven't observed them myself. And there are other kinds of birds too.

It is tempting to think of them all as pests; vermin determined to thwart our attempts to grow some herbs for human consumption. I suppose they are. They may in fact thwart my plans to grow a tomato in the yard this year.

Perhaps another way to think of it is that they are operating from another plan. Perhaps our rational approach to creating free food for Framingham is only one plan. After all:

"Is it by your wisdom that the groundhog digs deep,
   and makes an exit from under the shed to all the compass points around?
Is it at your command that the bunny watches
  and turns like lighting to vanish from the yard?
They live near the earth and make a home
  where it is cool and dark and invisible.
They see wider than 180 degrees
  and notice every shadow, every quivering leaf.
They might know the coming weather
  and how to escape the flood.
They make many young
  for the meek shall inherit the earth."

Enjoy your vegetables, flowers, and all your gardens, beloved. Then give a sweet prayer of thanks to the one who finds joy in all growing things, who longs to heal all blighted and benighted things, and who, most particularly, loves you, loves you, loves you.

Peace and Blessing