There are certain practices I “take on” because I am a Christian. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing more with you about some of the things I do and don’t do because of my faith. This week I’d like to talk about a new practice my wife and I are embracing: gardening.
Gardening has been a budding (get it?! ZING!) interest of mine the past few years. When we were living in an apartment during my seminary years, my wife and I discovered Square Foot Gardening thanks to our church that was introducing community gardens. We built a small 2’x4′ garden on our porch and reaped the most delicious 14 green beans we’ve ever had in our lives! And those tiny carrots that tasted so good we couldn’t wait until they grew to respectable sizes? YUM! ahhh #memories
Since those days, I’ve gone back to my roots (man, I’m on fire today! thanks, Afternoon Coffee!) and embraced home gardening. This year we planted green beans, three types of peppers, four types of tomatoes, summer squash, a host of cuttable flowers, brussel sprouts, and pumpkins! We mostly do the Square-Foot and container methods, aside from a few items that are growing around our house. It’s been a lot of fun and each year we are learning more and more, even embracing “heirloom” seeds after having read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – a book I HIGHLY recommend. I’m always proud of my little plots of land and remember my great-grandparents “Victory Gardens” that they tended to up until their deaths. I remember picking flowers, weeds, and vegetables from my grandma’s garden as a little boy, and I still remember just how good those carrots tasted out of my mother’s garden too. Gardening is part of my family’s story. And it’s part of yours too. Part of what it means to be human is to be people of the soil.
I was introduced to Theological Anthropology during my years in seminary, and it completely revolutionized how I see myself and the world we live in. Anthropology is the study of humankind, and Theological Anthropology makes the bold claim that our Christian faith teaches the world what it means to be human. Early in the bible, in the very first book in fact, we learn that humanity is earth-based. Adam (the “first” human) and adamah (Hebrew for ground, land, earth, dust, etc) are intimately related. We are reminded later in the Scriptures that “from dust we came and to dust we shall return.” We are people of the soil. And we are entrusted with its care.
We realize this innately. There is something within us, a pull, that draws us to nature and soil and growing things. That’s why, at least in part, my great-grandparents grew gardens and why apartment complexes are adorned with flower boxes. We are earthy people. It’s in our blood. Our connection with the soil is part of what it means to be human.
Expositions have been written about Creation Care and how to faithfully interpret the opening chapters of Genesis (as well as a whole host of other scriptural passages), and Ellen Davis does an especially good job of this. Read anything of Ellen’s that you can get your hands on; she’s absolutely amazing…and an even better person! My point isn’t to go deep into those issues in this post, but rather to share how the scriptures are shaping my life and how I understand what it means to be human. We are meant to be in tune with the earth. And we’re growing increasingly less and less so…
Speaking of…do you even know where your food comes from? How far did it have to travel to get to your local supermarket? We didn’t know. We still don’t know. And that’s a problem. I did find out, however, that the flowers in our church’s sanctuary are flown in from California, Canada, and South America. That’s a problem too…
As a follower of the God revealed in Jesus Christ, I have to do something. Clearly I am a part of the problem, but I also want to be part of the solution. And so, because I am a Christian, I grow a garden. Does it really do much good? Probably not. But at least it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a step toward becoming more human. It’s a step toward Jesus. And that’s the direction I want to be heading.
See you next week when I might discuss why I refuse to eat foie gras, and why you shouldn’t either 😛 But seriously though. Don’t eat foie gras, especially if you are a Christian.