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Viewpoint from Rev Canon Nick Garrard 02/09/2016

NICK GARRARDRevd Canon Nick Garrard
Rector of the Broadside Benefice (Ranworth with Panxworth, South Walsham and Upton and Fishley, Woodbastwick) and Rural Dean of Blofield

also published in the Great Yarmouth Mercury

 

I feel closer to God in my garden than I do in church


I’ve heard these words many times over the years. If someone feels at peace in their garden, they may have unwittingly found what God intended for us. In the creation story in Genesis, the first man and woman are placed in a garden called Eden, to tend and nurture it. It was a way of life in harmony with each other and with God - until things went wrong in the snake and apple department. Adam had to quit his stewardship as Eden’s gardener. He became a farmer, battling to produce food for a growing family. Looking back, the garden must have seemed a happy place, forever tinged with regret

dove leftHowever we may view this story, we know that gardens existed in ancient times. Archaeology has revealed remains of gardens in palaces and sacred places thousands of years ago. The Romans brought gardens to Britain and left behind box and mulberry trees, fennel, plums and cherries. Gardening knowledge from the ancient world returned to medieval England through contact with Muslim scholars in southern Spain

The medieval Church added a new feature. Instead of cutting the grass in the cloister garden once a year for hay, monasteries began to do so frequently, so it would stay green. The colour symbolised love and heaven. Looking out on this patch of green encouraged monks and nuns to study and look forward in faith. Later on, in Victorian times, burial reforms led to the creation of Magdalen Lawn Cemetery, among others. People would be buried under green grass, in the peace of an English garden and in hope of heaven

Dove rightGoing back to the Bible, we find that Jesus’ resurrection occurred in a garden. In John 20, Mary Magdalene comes to Christ’s tomb but finds it empty. She sees Jesus, but mistakes him for a gardener. Why? Perhaps he was dressed as a gardener, or maybe he was actually gardening. After his resurrection, Jesus did many activities. I wonder if he began with a spot of gardening. Jesus is sometimes described as the second Adam, the one who got it right. Perhaps he was showing Mary that through him, humanity could return to the garden, and paradise would be restored

Do you feel closer to God in your garden than in church? Well, God knows why