Here in Seattle summer is in full swing. The kids are wanting to be outdoors and we need to do everything we can to encourage them.
This is is a great season for reflecting on the garden and what it can teach us about God.
Where do I encounter God in the garden at this season? is a question that has held my attention this week. Beauty, fragrance, abundance come to mind. Nothing represents these more for me than the lavender currently flourishing in my garden. It is a reflection of God to me.
Lavender is Beautiful
It’s tiny flowers are intricate purple miracles strung together on a stem – not regular and ordered but seemingly haphazard and random. They are a feast for my eyes. I love their brilliant coloured heads that sway gently in the breeze. I watch the busy insects swarm to them – bees of every variety, wasps, and other flying creatures I have no names for. Not just a feast for the eyes I realize but a feast of rich pollen too. Their beauty has purpose as I suspect all the beauty of God’s world has if only we will take time to notice and enjoy it.
Lavender is Fragrant
The insects are attracted by the fragrance that wafts towards me on the wind. I brush against the bushes and it clings to me just as I hope the fragrance of God’s presence clings to me as I go to interact with my friends, neighbours and strangers I encounter. I carry the fragrance with me as I walk and mingle it with my prayers, remembering Revelation 8:4 The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. I really do sense that this perfume is more than a delight to my senses. It is a sweet offering that mixes with my prayers and rises like incense before God.
Lavender is Abundant
Lavender is abundant in the Pacific NW at this season. I have three bushes in my garden and not far away there are lavender farms, where lavender is not just harvested and dried but made into oils, soaps, perfumes and all kinds of yummy edible delights. Most of the lavender farms are open for visits and people love to wander through the fields enjoying the beauty and the fragrance.
Lavender is For Sharing
Lavender is a sharing plant and a great one to introduce kids to. Its bright purple flowers are particularly attractive to insects that feast on its pollen and fly off to share it with their colonies and offspring. It prompts me to share too but be careful if you decide to pick some with your kids - bees do sting!
I have three bushes in my garden that entice me to pick the fragrant heads and crush them between my fingers. Yesterday I made lavender lemonade, and I am also thinking about other recipes I could experiment with that speak of God’s beauty, fragrance and abundance as I experience through the lavender in my garden.
My husband and I live in a small intentional community and last week at our community meeting we made lavender wands, shared the lemonade and discussed what we learned about God from this amazing plant.
Now as I sit back in my office another verse comes to me – Proverbs 27:9 The heart is delighted by the fragrance of oil and sweet perfumes, and in just the same way, the soul is sweetened by the wise counsel of a friend.
What a beautiful verse to end my reflections with. Lavender doesn’t just speak to me of the fragrance of God, it reminds me too of the sweetness of friendship and the many special friends I have whose fragrance clings to me just as I hope God’s does.
How Do Your Kids Respond?
You may not have access to lavender in your part of the world, and if you live in the Southern hemisphere you may not be experiencing the abundance of the Northern summer, but there are still aspects of God’s good creation that speak to us and to our children wherever we live or whatever the season.
Walk around your garden or a local park with your kids. What do they notice?
Ask them: Where do you see the beauty of God? Perhaps it is a beautiful flower that catches their attention. Or an unusual insect.
Now ask: Where can you see the abundance of God? Perhaps they notice blackberries forming on the vines or apples in a tree.
Get them to smell their clothes. What fragrance of God has brushed off on them and clings to them as they walk through the day?
If possible pick some of the leaves or flowers that have made their clothes fragrant. Crush them between your fingers. What difference does it make to the fragrance? How does that change their view of the fragrance? How does it change their view of prayer? Sit prayerfully for a few moments and reflect on what God is saying to you.
Now ask them: I think the fragrance is like prayer rising to God. How could we use this plant at home to remind us to pray?
Final question: What have you seen today that you would you like to share? What encourages you to share God’s presence, beauty, fragrance and abundance?
Write down their responses or create a prayer, poem, image or song that depicts these and enjoy with them the beauty of God’s creation.
About Christine Sine
Christine Sine is the founder and facilitator for Godspace, which grew out of her passion for creative spirituality, gardening and sustainability. Together with her husband, Tom, she is also co-Founder of Mustard Seed Associates but recently retired to make time available for writing and speaking. She describes herself as a contemplative activist, passionate gardener, author, and liturgist. She loves messing with church traditions and inspiring followers of Jesus to develop creative approaches to spirituality that intertwine the sacred through all of life. She facilitates workshops on spirituality and gardening, simplicity and sustainability and how to develop a more spiritual rhythm for our lives. Christine is inspired by Celtic Christian spirituality, which has opened her eyes to the God who is present in every moment, every experience and every place. She is open to learning from everyone and everything around.