Phew! What a year it has been in the garden. As I sit at the keyboard thinking about all that we have grown and preserved, I have a real sense of gratitude and accomplishment. 2021 has been a good year for us. God has blessed our efforts and our land.
In literature, winter is often the season that is used to symbolize death, pain, loneliness, or an end. However, in my mind, I like to think of winter as a time of rest.
As temperatures drop and the ground begins to freeze, our outdoor gardening slows down considerably. In addition to watering the plants, to keep them from dehydrating and freezing, and pulling up sweet root vegetables, it stops altogether. Trees and deciduous plants have shed their leaves; the bulbs are hidden under the ground; the ground is calm and our attention is turned to the wild birds who appreciate the feeders full of seeds and tallow.
For everything there is a season, and for our garden, and our lives, it is the season of rest. The ground rests; the tools rest; the sprinklers rest, and we rest.
Edible gardening is hard work, and so is food preservation. It is certainly not for everyone. For us, this is not done out of necessity, but rather a choice. It is a way of life that we understand and love. It gives us the opportunity to improve the quality and diversity of our food, and it allows us to stay directly connected to nature and to God.
I have heard before that there are two kinds of rest. One is for your body and the other is for your mind. Sometimes we are just physically exhausted. We must be still and even sleep. However, many of us are tired and weary because we don’t allow our minds to stop. In the information age, it’s just hard to turn everything off.
God was aware that we were going to fight the occupation and the worry, so He built ways to help us slow down and stay focused on Him. He commanded us to remember the Sabbath day and to rest once a week. He established the year of Jubilee which involved forgiveness, restoration and even rest from the land of cultures.
God, in His infinite wisdom, is aware that not only are our gardens made of earth, but that we ourselves are made of it. To be at our best, we need both physical and mental rest. We need his strength to be productive, and we need his rest to feel whole.
The earth moans, and so do the people. I talk to people all the time who say they’re “just tired of this”. Many voices demand our attention. The lights are flashing, the noises are loud, but the sweet little voice of our Creator whispers: “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ‘Cause my yoke is easy and my burden is light”(Matthew 11: 28-30). His rest is real and complete.
As we come to the end of another year and the start of another winter, perhaps you too could see the opportunity to rest. As our gardens and plants, and even our animals rest, will you lift your eyes above our earthly situation and see the only one who can provide comfort, peace and perfect rest?
The God of all Creation loves you! He loves you and he sent his only begotten Son to be born in a barn and die on a tree, so that you can enter into his perfect rest. Christmas reminds us that he was born as a little baby, but our raging world reminds us that he is coming back soon as an exalted king!
For now, it is important that we experience His earthly rest, but someday it will be even more important that we experience His eternal rest. May God give you the wisdom and the grace to seek his rest.
“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has treated you abundantly(Psalm 116: 7).