The Lenten season has begun, setting apart the six weeks leading up to Easter as a special time of remembrance and reflection, preparing our hearts to grip the grace and beauty of Jesus’ resurrection.
As gardeners, our favorite way to reach for deeper understanding is to grab a garden tool and head out back, keeping company with the ground and growing things, and the ways of God they seem to demonstrate generously.
Plant a Pot of Bible
Wandering about the garden, trowel in hand, my heart has fixed on an empty, old clay pot. Yes, yes! A plan to fill it flashes in mind’s eye, to plant each week herbs and edibles from the Bible to remind me of our LORD: Who He is and what He has done.
God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.
Romans 8:3 The Message
This old pot, cast off near the back fence, faded, cracked from years of struggling through freeze-thaw and Texas sun-scorching, serves somewhat as a picture of the “human condition.” Bringing it from the remote edges to front-and-center near the patio door, I will look here during Lent to remember the LORD. Planting this pot will resound a Scripture-moment:
We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.
2 Corinthians 4:7 The Message
The charge before us is to recognize the power—that force of life that has and continues to bring back from death’s domain—and to acknowledge it as belonging to God. O Lord, clear out confusion.
Understanding 101: Begin Empty
To understand the dazzle and delight of God’s power, to be able to hold our fullest measure of His unfolding power, to truly grasp the desire of the LORD to leave no one behind, and his victory that lets no sin have the final say, is to begin empty. Beginning empty is where most gardens get their start!
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty…
Genesis 1:1-2 NIV
In this first week of planting a pot of Bible, we will plant nothing at all. Traditional Lent observances are about emptying: fasting and vacating comforts, paying homage to Jesus’ 40 days of desert fasting. Let us marry the metaphor of this empty garden pot to the moments when we are
empty of strength:
physically and emotionally;
empty of understanding:
by events or things that should not have happened like this;
empty of supporters:
ridiculed or mistreated for believing in the best;
empty of position:
shaken, fallen, ambushed, scrambling.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did; so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within who keeps us safe.
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 The Living Bible
Every situation that knocks us down to nothing, leaving us to feel bare, barren, void—as empty as our dirt-only pot—is the place to reveal Jesus’ life. That is, when something grows, even flourishes, to fill our lives, after experiencing such lowliness or nothingness, we are to clearly recognize the growth and flourish is the blessing and display of God’s power. May our personal stories point us back to Jesus’ death-to-life story; may we be gripped by the beauty of the One who loves us and came to save us.
Preparing the Soil
Preparing the soil in containers requires different techniques than garden bed prep. For the 8 species we will plant together in this Pot of Bible, I suggest a 14” diameter pot, or a trio of smaller ones grouped together.
Our seeds and 4-inch seedlings will need a depth of 6 to 8 inches of loose, well-aerated soil, preferably with plenty of vermiculite to maintain soil structure. If your pot is deeper than this requirement, you can fill the bottom with lighter weight materials to help the pot from being so heavy. Drainage holes are a must.
For more inspiration on the spiritual metaphors of Preparing the Soil, see the devotions in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, pages a-22 & a-23.
©2016 Shelley S. Cramm
The pot inspiring this blog is in my mother-in-law’s southern California garden – I love the natural moss that has grown over the years of sitting in the shady sprinkler’s spray.
All the clay pots in our garden end up cracking with Texas weather’s extreme exposure…unless they outright crumble, I love to plant them nonetheless. Something about being able to grow good things in cracked pots is very encouraging! (must keep a more vigilant eye on their moisture, however)
My soil prep includes potting soil salvaged from our Christmas pointsettias dotted with vermiculite or perilite, I’m not sure which. I add a little garden compost to enrich the soil, and fill the bottom of the pot with lava rock and pine straw so the pot is not so heavy. One of my favorite garden tools: Fiskars’ Big Grip Trowel, a gift from Fiskars at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium.