O gardeners, the flurry of this joyful eve has you likely too busy to read! As it should be, filled with family, friends, and church services, in person or in “Zoom!” Our Savior is born, a great work to delight in (Psalm 111:2)! Yet if you can seclude your thoughts for even a moment—like Mary, who was prone to ponder—
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19 NIV
—then I have a holy Word for you! Recently, I came across this poignant translation of Psalm 131 in The Message, endeared at once by the word “cultivated.” Once a gardener, always a gardener! The Lord captured my attention, and I settled in to wonder at the pattern here, pointing to the day our Savior is born in a poetical way. These three simple verses give us plenty to savor as we celebrate His birth.
God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.
I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.
Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always!
Psalm 131 The Message
The first verse mirrors how Jesus humbled Himself, not merely surrendering His supernatural being-ness in conforming to a human body, but to a baby’s existence! Helpless, dependent, incapable, little, His newborn appearance lifted up lowliness, elevated common life, absorbed the average into His magnificent Presence. What irony in this Word, considering the baby in the manger is not only “king of the mountain,” but of the earth, sky, and universe!
Yet Jesus showed us the way in his humility and walked us through relinquishing our “grandiose plans” for the way of the Father. He ushered us to a place of trusting and watching for the Father’s will instead of our own. This casual observation becomes our essential practice, especially in the many instances when things don’t go the way we anticipated (the corononavirus year…for starters!).
The second verse is nearly a command to get out to the garden, haha! Keeping close to the ground—aaahhh, returning to the familiar smell of damp leaf mould as winter weather sets in—prompts us to cultivate a quiet heart alongside the winter flowers. Feel the Lord wean us from the raging world to His pace, sustenance, and grace.
The babe-in-arms spoken of here resonates the holiness of the nativity. Joseph and Mary swaddling newborn Jesus. O, that our souls would evidence the Savior is born by being baby-content!
And finally, the Psalm poises us for all that is to come, blessing us to wait with hope. We hope now as we cherish His arrival; we hope always in His Salvation and everlasting life! Psalm 131 is a simple 1-2-3, a waltz with Savior-embracing stride to help us savor Him, even as we leave the ponder and splash big in His river-lively Christmas day. Keep cherishing as you are whisked away in the beautiful excitement, family phone calls, and gift-giving glories.
Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Psalm 111:2 NIV
From our family garden to yours, Merry Christmas!!!
©2020 Shelley S. Cramm
White cyclamen cheer the winter garden, hardy to Zone 8 if you cover them during temperatures lower than 32 degrees. Cyclamen are not mentioned in the Bible or in the most prominent Biblical botany books, and really, they have no connection to the Savior’s birth that I have discovered. However, inspired by my recent read of My Wild Garden: Notes From a Writer’s Eden by Meir Shalev (New York, Schocken Books, 2020) (Affliate Link), they are native to Israel. He devotes a whole charming chapter to them.
Then my sister-in-law planted her beautiful front border with cyclamen, encouraging me to try them, too! The green-blue coloring of their foliage pairs lovely with cedar and other evergreen conifers, shown here under a dangling cedar ‘dwarf blue atlas’ branch.
The Message denotes Scripture quotations taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
How tender are your thoughts during this time of “shut-down/ lock-down”. Finding ways to be grateful of God’s presence and constructive ways to spend our days are blessings we continue to discover. Have a very merry Christmas!