In my local community, we have space for a good-sized urban garden. Often, in the cool of the day, my footsteps take me to the garden to plant and water, tend and harvest the good things of the earth. This is a quiet space, populated by nature’s abundance, wildflowers and berry bushes draw a plethora of activity. Birds and butterflies and all manner of critters share the space. And I do believe that God also strolls in this space in the cool of the day, a witness to the ongoing unfolding of creation and once again pronouncing it “good”.
As we tend the good things of the earth, God is tending us, tending our spirits, watering here, trimming there, mulching abundantly. We are blessed by the blessing we give, we share abundantly in the abundance we plant.
Religious life too is a garden, and in community and in ministry we are called to tend gardens that are not our own. We enter into a rich ecosystem of communities that share the work of filling the earth and stewarding it into that abundance that God called us to be. We are not an isolated species, living out our lives for ourselves. We never were. Today more than ever we are called into relationships of mutual blessing and enrichment. These happen in local communities that are themselves in relationship with other communities in a vast network, a mutually enriching ecosystem of blessing. These overlapping circles of relationship are a characteristic of twenty-first-century society. The resilience of a community comes not from large size and vast wealth but from the depth and breadth of relationships that it nurtures.