December 22, 2014

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:23

Two days past the solstice, my heart has returned already to thoughts of gardens.

While I relish my garden’s production of vegetables and fruits, they do not inspire winter dreams. For me, a preoccupation on production leaves gardening in the language of prose.

A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.Michael Pollan

While the world could greatly benefit from more who turn a spade in the simple prose of production, a plot of soil takes on that unique designation of garden when the production of that plot harvests emotions, feelings and meaning beyond the yield of any farm.

Garden poetry emerges through careful crafting of landscape elements with the intent to evoke an emotion. The unique gardener’s vision of selection and placement creates the sense of a privileged place which differentiates a garden from a plot of productive soil.

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.Claude Monet

Water Lilies

Garden poetry inhabits my winter contemplation.

These contemplations have been revolving around a garden inspiration which came from a recent visit to Monticello. Monticello’s West lawn has a winding path bordering between the lawn and Thomas Jefferson’s various botanical plantings. Jefferson walked along this path as his mode of daily exercise.

Monticello's West Lawn

Monticello’s West Lawn

Jefferson’s path is the inspiration for my North lawn.

While I currently do not need a pathway for physical exercise, I do need a pathway for spiritual exercise. I struggle for consistency in the spiritual discipline of prayer. Therefore, the privileged space I hope to create of my North lawn is a deeply personal masterpiece for my soul.

I’ve been dreaming and planning; drawing and erasing; researching and mulling over a prayer walkway. I hope to create a pathway that will lead me through a secession of prayers. As I walk along the pathway, there will be a variety of stations to lead me in my prayers for the various aspects of my life. Therefore, the selection of plants at each station of the pathway is essential to evoke the recollection and intent of the station.

I have been mulling stations for the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; governments of the world, the United States, Idaho, and my county; the Church universal, ministries of the seven continents, my local Church; my immediate and extended families; others – friends and associates; sources of enmity and enemies; work and provision; deliverance from temptation – seven deadly sins; and the concerns of self.

The selection of plants and structures which will produce the desired recollection has been a delightful way to pass the dormant season. However, I have encountered a hindrance common to many a gardener. Many of the plants that I would like to select will not be happy in the environment that they would be forced into. I do not have control over the climate and only limited control of the soil. Therefore, my plant selection must be subservient to the climate and soil of the planting.

My mind always seems to wander back to the parable of the sower when I think about gardening.

Example soil horizons. a) top soil and colluvi...

Have you ever wondered the composition of good soil?

How much nitrogen or phosphorous does it have?
What is its optimum pH range?
Is it free draining or does the clay content need to be high?

Jesus tells us that good soil is that in which the seed of the Word of God has been planted and the person hears the word and understands it. This person then grows in that good soil to produce fruit and yields a hundredfold, or sixty fold, or thirty fold.

But is the soil the same for everyone?

Just has God has created a variety of plants that thrive in different environments; I believe He has created variety in His children specifically suited to the environments He intends to send them.

God has gifted some to specifically thrive in intense heat of lifting their candle high;

Others flourish in the deep shade of ministering to the oppressed, abused and depressed;

Some blossom in a free draining flow of new thoughts and opportunities;

Others bloom in the saturated conditions of single familiar passages.

English: Soil types by clay, silt and sand com...

The seed of the Word is the same for us all. However, I believe the characteristics that constitutes good soil varies as widely as the personalities of God’s children. We make a mistake when we assume there is a prescribed formula that ensures the Spirit’s work of sanctification in our lives. We can end up trying to force ourselves into an environment into which we were never created to flourish.

Sanctification’s wonderful discovery is learning the soil or soils that God has specifically designed us to flourish in. It is why some produce a hundredfold in foreign soil as missionaries. It is why some people can bloom in a calling that I could not comprehend participating. It is why some need new soil free from a polluted past.

Every Child of God has a bountiful place in our Maker’s masterpiece garden.  We just need to find the soil that is best suited for our soul.


PRAYER: Father, thank you for the variety that you have created in plants and people.  Thank you for creating and calling your people to all the environments of this world.  Lord, lead us by your Spirit to those soils in which we were designed to produce in the masterpiece of your redemptive plan.  Father, you are the Master gardener.  You have created a poetry in creation that we so often overlook.  All of creation proclaims the intent of you, the Master Gardener.   Open my eyes to see.   Help me to display you in all that I do and produce.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

















  1. amen! Merry Christmas and God bless!

  2. There was only One God Creator Who gave us everything around.

    We should not construct any buildings to worship more than this One God.

    You may think your three gods or your “Godhead” governs your world, but according to the Bible it is man and the adversaries of God who are master of this world. You yourself having a church not in accordance with the will of God, having only worship for Him clearly seem to know the sources of enmity and enemies; work and provision; deliverance from temptation – seven deadly sins; and the concerns of self.

    We first of all should be most aware of the greatest sin, or going into Gods commands, the worshipping of other gods than Him.

    • I agree that there is only one God who created everything around us. I also believe that God exists as three persons yet He is one God. God exists in the persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet He is one God. The intention of my prayer garden is not to worship other gods than the One but to remind myself of the fullness of God- three persons of God, that each are fully God, as one God. Do you believe that Jesus was fully God?

      • Reading the Old and New Testament we no where can find such a thing that Jesus would be God. In the Holy scriptures is clearly written that there is only One God, Who is an eternal Spirit, who can not be seen by man or they would fall death. Jesus who was called God’s His only begotten son by that God [Who does not tell lies (according to Scriptures) ] was seen by many people after he was born (got a beginning). We do accept Jesus was and is the son of God, who really was tempted and died (though God can not be tempted and can not die). We do not believe Jesus is God, but accept what is written in the Holy Scriptures and come to the conclusion that he was that promised Messiah, the kristos or Christ.

      • Nowhere in the scripture either New Testament or Old Testament?
        Consider John 1:1-4, the Word was with God and the Word was God; vs. 14 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. Thomas referred to Jesus as “My Lord and my God!” in John 20:28. Jesus did not correct Thomas but said in John 20:29 – “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Believe what? That Jesus is our Lord and God.
        Titus 2:3 – “…our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
        2 Peter 1:1 – “…by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
        Colossians 2:9 – “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,”
        Romans 9:5 – “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever.”
        Isaiah 9:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
        Who did Jesus say he was? John 8:58 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, “I am”. The Jews understood that Jesus was claiming to be God (Exodus 3:14) because they picked up stones to kill him for blasphemy.
        It appears to me that by not believing in the deity of Jesus Christ are rejecting a belief that the Disciples, Apostles, Prophets and Jesus himself all believed.

  3. I love the discussion of a need for spiritual exercise via a spiritual pathway. In the positioning of the plants…Could you plant a plant that would thrive in that place/soil and then accommodate the prayer to follow the plant? Rather than will the plant to the prayer? Start with the plant. The prayer will follow.

  4. What an inspired idea, JD–a prayer garden with stations for various categories of prayer. I’ll be anxious to read updates as spring planting begins, and then as summer arrives and you can enjoy your prayer garden to its fullest. Might make an interesting book, too, about the process and the prayers that result!

    • It might make an interesting book. Unfortunately, my track record for finishing projects is not the best. I figure that I have taken on a 10 year project. However, I am fine with it never ending. Gardens tend to change as the gardener changes. My wife’s request is that I finish enough in time for our kids to get married in it. That should give me about 3 seasons of planting and 3 for growing. It will probably be a great source from future blog posts.

  5. I like this parable it does make me think, I think your idea of a prayer walkway is a brilliant way of drawing closer to God, I think in the absorption of planing you would find the Lord often in your hair. That’s an expression I find fits those times when I am similarly absorbed. Oh, and a very absorbing post.

    • I like that saying; “the Lord in your hair”. That will be my hope as well.
      God Bless!

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