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Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Garden of Birth

Since I'm away to see my play read as part of the Budding Playwrights Festival in Rosebud Alberta this weekend, I am pleased to host guest blogger, Murray Pura today, with an excerpt from his devotional book, Rooted - Reflections on the Gardens in Scripture. Enjoy and be blessed. :) Marcia Lee Laycock

Rooted by Murray Pura

“The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, away to the east.” Gen.2:8

Rain slashed and wind cut and ocean waves thumped against the rocks and sand and stones. The night was cold and without stars, without moon, without light of any kind. Two men and a woman walked back and forth across a stretch of grass that sloped to the sea, hunched against the sting of the storm. A flashlight beam jumped up and down and illuminated shining grass and swinging trees. The wind seemed to grab the beam and hurl it from one side of the strip of land to the other. Out over the dark water was the chop of waves against boats and the snap of rigging against aluminum spars and the creak of cables pulling hard at their moorings. And farther out still the grunt and groan of a foghorn.

“You say it’s two acres?” asked one of the men to the other. Water streamed down his glasses.

The man with the flashlight nodded. “From the highway right down to the cove.”

“What about water?” asked the woman.

"You’ll have to sink a well. But all the wells along this shore have sweet water. That’s not a problem.”

“The cove seems pretty sheltered even with this storm going on,” said the man with the glasses looking out towards the ocean.

“Yeah, it would take a hurricane to really give you trouble tucked away in here.”

“We’ll take it then.”

“You’ll take it?”

The woman smiled and nodded, her hood and face wet with rain. “You bet we’ll take it.”

The man with the flashlight shook his head. “You walk around the property on the dirtiest night of the year, you can’t see the hand in front of your face - why, it’s like buying the place sight unseen.”

They laughed - and began to walk up the grassy slope towards their cars as the wind and rain continued to pound on their heads and backs.

“You have a bunch of people waiting to see this property in the morning, am I right?” asked the man with the glasses.

“I sure do.”

“We had to beat them to the punch.”

“Well, you did that. Nobody else wanted to come out until after the storm had blown through. I’ll have to call them all and tell them they can save themselves a trip.”

“I guess you will.”

The two men stopped by the cars and shook hands in the dark.

Once the storm had passed, the sun shone again and the sea glittered white and blue at the foot of the property like a net of gems. Over a period of weeks and months a well was drilled, a dock built and moored securely in the cove, a house erected and filled with furniture. But what the man and his wife had looked forward to most came in May – the opportunity to split open the grass and plant a garden.

Day after day their spades and picks cut apart the earth. Their mattocks and machinery turned the soil. They sweat and toiled and grunted and grinned. Halfway down the long slope of grass they planted a large vegetable plot. A strawberry patch was put there too. Near the plot they placed fruit trees. A grapevine. Raspberry canes. Dirt jammed under their fingernails and streaked black across their foreheads. Closer to the house they marked out flower gardens with orange, pink and purple petals. Roses. Herbs. They changed the land. They altered the colors of the earth. And they thought it was good, very good. So did many others.

When you change your world some things are diminished, some things are added. There was less grass on their property, though still plenty to go around, less white and red clover, less wide-open space. But the bees were in heaven, a heaven that had not existed for them before. Hummingbirds showed up, playing the air like a Stradivarius. Butterflies with pale blue wings arrived and rested on the highest daisies. Deer ate the lettuce, crows ate the corn. Robins came for worms. Blackbirds for berries. Chipmunks raided the feeding stations set up for sparrows and cardinals and nuthatches. Flies arrived also. But close on their wings came dragonflies of metallic green and emerald. Snakes without venom slid between flower stalks. Visitors made tea from fresh spearmint leaves. The gardens gave both humans and the creatures about them much pleasure. The gardens fed their bodies. Even with the hard work of weeding, the gardens offered a new happiness.

This was the garden of my wife’s parents, Richard and Goldie, a garden built by the sea. Before their arrival, the waters of the Atlantic, for the most part, splashed against an untouched shoreline of earth and stone. For hundreds of years, thousands of years, the grass had not been turned. The soil had rested from generation to generation. The property looked perfect just the way it was— emerald field sloping down to rock and sand beach, trees tall, jade leaves, salt waters flashing as if the stars had fallen. But Richard and Goldie felt something was missing. Gardens. So they began to create them.

Not all gardens may be fenced. But all gardens have definite boundaries. There are edges to them, just as there are edges between sea and sky and land and ocean. They are separate from the world around them even though they haven’t gone anywhere. A garden stands out. As lovely as the land around them might be, we notice gardens immediately: beauty within beauty.

It is in us to do what Richard and Goldie did. To plant. Create. Not only gardens of the ground, but gardens of the mind, of the spirit, gardens of music and gardens of words and gardens of worship. In all of these gardens I think, we are trying to find Eden again. Eden is an old memory we cannot recall except by glimpses of what our hands and imaginations do pretty much out of thin air, surprising us. “I never knew you had it in you,” someone tells us while admiring our handiwork. Neither did we.

The paint of Eden is in the violets and orchids we plant and admire. The music of Eden is in the melodies of the guitarist and the pianist and the cellist. The drama of Eden is in some of our finest plays and films. The sweetness we create. The symmetry. The prayers. The paradise. Something deep inside each one of us wants the first garden again. Something in us wants to re-create the world from scratch.

Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His first work of fiction was published in Teen Power when he was 16. Canadian publications include the novels Mizzly Fitch, Zo, and The White Birds of Morning as well as the short story collections Mister Good Morning and The Poets of Windhover Marsh. In the United States two books of popular theology have been published by Zondervan while several works of fiction have been released by major publishing houses. Titles include: London Dawn, Beneath the Dover Sky, The Wings of Morning and The Name of the Hawk. A Baptist pastor for 28 years, Murray currently makes his home in southwestern Alberta. Visit Murray's Website


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