Today, on Easter Sunday, I feel the need to post when I normally don't post on Sunday. I've had much to ponder and reflect upon since Palm Sunday last week. I went back to what I wrote last Easter and realized how so much can change in just one year's time--so very much. And yet there are some things that never change--the things that matter. I wrote last year:
"My garden inspires me to think of those things that matter in the whole eternal scheme of things. It never ceases to amaze me how trees, plants, and earth do that."Maybe that is why so many of us are drawn to the garden, to the earth, and the soil under our feet. Maybe it is because while we are physically planting, sowing and tilling, we also find ourselves planting, sowing and tilling within our hearts and souls. We are finding a place for ourselves to grow.
Last year just before Easter, I had finished planting our olive tree. This year, I have just finished reading a wonderful book by Carol Drinkwater entitled "The Olive Farm". Over the past year, I've watched the little olive tree that I put into the ground. Olive trees grow slowly. They don't produce fruit until they are seven to ten years old. I've pruned my little olive already for this year. I am shaping her to become the "queen of the garden". Her shape must be started now so that as she grows into her life's purpose, her form is already there. I've thought about how much I am like an olive tree being pruned for a larger purpose that seems so far away in the future. I feel so small and so unfit, but the Master's hand knows best. He prunes and shapes me to fit my purpose.
Easter always draws my mind back to the olive tree. Last year I reflected on the planting of our olive tree:
"There is something about planting an olive that is meaningful, spiritual, and deeply symbolic. The Garden of Gethsemane where Christ spent the night before his crucifixion had olive trees in it. The name 'Gethsemane' literally means 'olive oil press'. Christ spent those agonizing night-time hours being pressed emotionally, mentally, and physically until He bled from the pours of His skin. He was the only perfect and sinless person that had or will ever walk the earth. He was like a harvest of perfect olives used to produce the best and finest extra virgin olive oil--the oil that is prized because it is from the 'first press'. Christ's experience in Gethsemane was the 'first press' in so many ways. That Atonement that Christ performed that night, produced the finest and most precious gift that mankind could ever receive--an Atonement for our sins, our pains, our sorrows, and our iniquities.
"As I tamped down the earth around our own olive tree, all of these thoughts ran through my mind. I felt moved to offer a prayer after the planting was over to ask that the olive tree would thrive, prosper, and fulfill the measure of its creation here in our garden. As I closed the prayer with tear-filled eyes, I felt a closeness to my Savior. It was a fitting way to begin the week preceding Easter.
"As I have hauled each wheelbarrow full of gravel and placed it into the trenches that are now paths that run around and by the olive tree's planter, I realized how much that part of the garden is beginning to look like the way I have always envisioned Gethsemane looks even though I've never seen it in person. Over and over I have had the words of a song going through my head as I have worked--I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked. And today as I completed the last of the path that hides the main trench, I sat down to take a last look before the light in the spring sky faded too much for me to see. Again, the words ran through my head."
And as I walked through the garden taking photographs to capture the beauty of this Easter Sunday, I was struck again by very similar thoughts--and this, despite the fact that there has been so much progress and change in that space. Again, there are some things that are constant and unchanging. For instance, the changing of the seasons that I wrote about last year:
"Whether one is Christian or not, the season of Spring is full of hope and renewal. Even my friends in the southern hemisphere are celebrating a time where nature is getting ready for renewal by shedding the old."
Rose hedge on southern fenceline of Rosehaven Cottage's gardens (Easter Sunday 2009)
I think about the gifts that God has given us in nature--reminders of Him and the bigger picture. Even the seasons are a reminder to us of a larger principle. There is so much in my life that I wish to shed and be rid of--often daily. That just happens, because this is life. Each Sunday, I find such peace renewing myself with His help. I have learned that He doesn't care how many times I may stumble or fall. He cares whether I ask for His help in picking myself up to try again. It is a process of shedding and renewal that repeats around us in nature. And it is a process of shedding and renewal that I can repeat within my own heart. It is this that I am deeply thankful for this wonderful Easter Sunday.