“Thou in my heart hast planted…”
It’s November. My husband and I just finished a hike through the meadow at Longwood Gardens Though the weather forecast promised warm afternoon sun, it’s gray, cold and misty. On a whim, I ask my husband to take a picture of this sign.
The sign sits at a meadow entrance/exit. I’ve looked at the photo often, wanting to use it in the blog. But nothing quite clicked until today.
George MacDonald’s sonnets for January 21-22 reminded me immediately of the sign in the photo. MacDonald is thinking about his heart as a garden in which the Divine Gardener has planted a bit of life. I’ve included definitions for unfamiliar words and images (hold pointer over highlighted words).
Thou in my heart hast planted, gardener divine,
A scion of the tree of life: it grows;
But not in every wind or weather it blows;
The leaves fall sometimes from the baby tree,
And the life-power seems melting into pine;
Yet still the sap keeps struggling to the shine,
And the unseen root clings cramplike unto thee.
Do thou, my God, my spirit’s weather control;
And as I do not gloom though the day be dun,
Let me not gloom when earth-born vapours roll
Across the infinite zenith of my soul.
Should sudden brain-frost through the heart’s summer run,
Cold, weary, joyless, waste of air and sun,
Thou art my south, my summer-wind, my all, my one.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul,
© 1994 Augsburg Fortress Press
First, gardens don’t live charmed lives. They live unpredictable lives in a world they can’t control. So did George MacDonald: the deaths of 4 of his 11 children; a life of chronic tuberculosis (consumption), poverty, disappointment and failure.
Second, I love the image of God as Divine Gardener. I’m adding it to my list! Here it emphasizes the faithful role of the Gardener from the beginning of life through whatever comes next. As the garden sign suggests: the Gardener cares for “the soul of the native landscape” that resides within every part of the garden and makes it what it is.
Third, I love knowing that rooted or grafted into each human being is a bit of the Gardener’s tree of life. It’s a gift that’s part of our nature. I didn’t have to invent it, earn it or buy it. It doesn’t thrive without effort, yet I can count on the Gardener being faithful, regardless of my spirit’s weather. No matter the weather,
“Thou art my south, my summer-wind, my all, my one.”
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 January 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, November 2014, Longwood Gardens Pennsylvania