Christ: Gardener of Our Souls

At this moment the garden is all expectation.  The green shoots have pushed through the earth softened by the spring rains and the peonies are ready to pop. The irises leaves reach for the sun, tall green sentries guarding the lavender phlox creeping about the base of the flowering crab tree that stands just outside the garden walls. The crab tree has relinquished its bloom and fragrance, that first delight to the senses that greets the spring. Its red berries unfold into white flowers, a spring snow fall that arrives and fads more quickly than the rest. At the moment the garden is perfectly poised at the threshold of its becoming.

Having just traversed the stepping stones of Lent, we too might have a sense that we are on the threshold of a new becoming. Another Easter renewal taking root in us.

I have come to Paul’s letter to the Colossians at the seemingly appointed moment as well. Colossians is the perfect post-Easter missive to us. Like the garden that is all readiness, a bourgeoning promise, Paul’s letter from a Roman prison is bounding with the treasures of his thoughts, jewels of wisdom and knowledge, hidden as it were in God’s secret garden, ours for the picking.

Jesus found Mary in the garden when he came out of the tomb back to life.  She thought him the gardener. Yet, he is, as Paul speaks of him here, the gardener of our souls, the gardener of our very lives. The apostle to the world is describing in the poem of verses 15-20 the Cosmic Christ. The Christ who always was, from the beginning. He is the beginning, our beginning. In him we have our beginning, just as the world, the heavens and the earth, every garden in it, came to be, because he is. Just as the earth we tend reflects the mystery and majesty of the Creator, so too, Christ reflects the image of the unseen God, Paul writes. Jesus also said, when you see me you see the Father.

He is  the Christ of all the earth. He is its unity. He is our unity. He holds us together. We have been planted in him, rooted in his life, as Paul says repeatedly. It is not just a metaphor for Paul or for us. It is the living reality of the Christ life that has walked out of the tomb, beyond the garden gate, into the real world to make his claim upon it and continues to make his claim upon our lives. You are mine. The source of our lives from the boundless beauty of Christ incarnate.  Our undying rhizome.

Just like the garden in this moment of its becoming, he too is the becoming thing in us. His becoming in us knows no season. It is in every season, every day, in each moment that we take breath. Our last breath will be the first of the eternal flower that we become in the light of his countenance. In his sure and loving gaze, that even now sustains and is working toward our ‘perfection’, our wholeness, the hidden garden of the self that is rooted in his love and life, and grows to the perfect perfection that is the Gardener of our souls, of our very being. He is the becoming things in us from which our lives take rise and toward which we journey to the wholeness that is him. His breath in us. His face the reflection of our face in the river carrying us to the garden gate.

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