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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sabbath Rest: The Garden as Metaphor

God made Nature quite adept at making her beauty without Man's assistance. She needs no help to offer a lovely world-view to any who pause long enough to look her handiwork.

But according to my Christian faith, man was nonetheless given the task of enhancing the beauty offered, to protect and "tend" as it is written.

This task of stewardship is a higher calling than many of today's city-dwellers consider it to be, especially as much called "nature" is relegated and contained--with all its potential for wildness virtually eliminated.

It is on these things that I ruminate as I consider this comment: I've been told I refer to my garden with the tenderness of a mother toward her small, helpless child, and so I've been thinking about why my garden is precious that way to me. I've come to the conclusions drawn above, but I also realize that it bears metaphoric significance in the language of my Creator, and this also is a large part of why I find it so mysteriously valuable.

The next couple of sabbath rest posts are dedicated to revealing that metaphoric value. Today's are from the Song of Songs, and reveal the intimate poetry of personal relationship that a beautiful garden can inspire.

Sgs 4:12 A garden inclosed [is] my sister, [my] spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Sgs 4:16 Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, [that] the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Sgs 5:1 I am come into my garden, my sister, [my] spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

Sgs 6:2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.

Sgs 6:11 I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, [and] to see whether the vine flourished, [and] the pomegranates budded.

Especially with all my work with herbs this week, I am deeply moved by these words of delight and satisfaction as they are derived from the garden. The aroma in my kitchen this week is heady, and coming full circle it is easy to see why these herbs and flowers make such an appearance in Scripture's love poetry: for the word Spirit in its Biblical context means breath. It's Hebrew definition is rather broad, leaving it open to describe much--from the wind of heaven to a vain and empty space of air. I strive to fill that air around me and within me with the aromas that are pleasing, both to me and to the one who gave me the seeds and soil for the growing.

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