I wipe the bead of sweat trickling toward my eye before plunging my garden trowel into the fertile soil. Softened by a rain shower the night before, the ground is easily pliable. An earthworm slithers out of sight. Perfect conditions for setting out new rows of begonias.
I inhale the musky scent, and God draws near. Glancing toward the baby blue sky, I know the certainty of His presence. Warmth floods my chest, and I fill with joy.
I’d spent the previous hour prepping the bed: removing withered pansies, raking dried-up pine straw and fallen leaves; loosening the dirt, readying it for new life.
Gardening gets me out of my head and plunks me firmly in the present. The calming cadence of nature chases away anxious thoughts and frees me from self-expectations. Gardening transplants me to a state of delight.
Wendell Berry, novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer writes:
The soil is the great connecter of our lives, the source and destination of all.
This may help explain the attraction to gardening for many, but today I understood gardening as more than that. While the soil does weave us together into a sort of interconnectedness, a greater interdependence is at play in gardening, in the whole of God’s creation.
As I kneeled in the garden, I thought about how God created the soil, sky, sunshine, rain, earthworms, plants, me and placed us together in His perfectly ordered universe—dependent on each other. Gratitude and humility bathed my soul, and I experienced Sabbath right there in my garden. I comprehended, perhaps for the first time, the boundlessness of God’s gifts of love and care.
In his book, Living the Sabbath – Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight, Norman Wirzba describes biblical teaching about Sabbath as more than a rest from our frantic, self-serving lifestyle. Rather, it’s a discipline and daily practice.
Wirza points us to the Bible’s “Song for the Sabbath Day,” or Psalm 92. “Above all,” he argues, “Sabbath observance is infused with thanksgiving and praise.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; At the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! (Psalms 92: 4-5 ESV)The connection between delight and the practice of Sabbath is obvious. What brings you delight? What causes you to spontaneously respond to God’s grandeur and goodness with thanksgiving and praise? Click To Tweet
Our offerings of thanksgiving and praise aren’t forced or commanded when we practice Sabbath.
“When [thanksgiving and praise] are at their most authentic pitch, they follow spontaneously and naturally from a life that is attentive and responsive to God’s grandeur and goodness everywhere on display (21).”
The test of genuine Sabbath practice “will come in the middle of our working week, as we build, teach, heal, cook, rather than the formal (and sometimes formulaic) setting of a worship service (23).”
The connection between delight and the practice of Sabbath is obvious. What brings you delight? What causes you to spontaneously respond to God’s grandeur and goodness with thanksgiving and praise?