In the Garden

(Lent 3, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

Gardening requires a generosity of spirit
a willingness to invest in unlikely specimens
seeing potential where another sees failure
taking a chance on a gangly fruitless tree
when the sure bet says cut it down.
To be a gardener is to know God
at least the God who patiently nurtures
without being certain of the outcome
but does not back away from the challenge.
God’s like that with us over and again
taking chance after chance on us,
playing against the cynic’s house,
not listening to the naysayers and gossips
prattling on about sin and lost causes—
she must have sinned a lot to be so sick,
hurricanes are because men marry men,
Muslims are mostly terrorists, Black men are dangerous—
tossing judgments around like rice
on the brides and grooms leaving church.
When we brood over or proclaim divine judgment,
it is good to remember God’s mercy—
sinners are always in the hands
of a loving God, despite Jonathan Edwards
and those who feel the need to tell God to punish
the others who break rules they tell
God He needs to make for our good.
But God does not love us because
we are good, She loves us because
God is good, the Master Gardener
who knows when our roots are dried out
our leaves shriveled and limbs drooping
even before we do, providing spiritual fertilizer
and living water—spigots are everywhere
always in the on position. Just pray and drink deeply,
the flow that never ends.

©Robin Gorsline2016  lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . The parable of the unproductive fig tree always feels a little incomplete to me; what will happen if the tree does not bear fruit even after the gardener digs around it and gives it nutrients? The gardener tells the owner he can cut it down then, but we do not know for sure that will happen. Might not the gardener ask for yet another year? I know God gives me more time to get right all the time.

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