Our sacred garden

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, September 24, 2020

With the end of this summer’s growing season at hand, this week I’m running a guest column by my flower-friendly wife, Mary Anna. In word and image, she shares here how she has experienced our backyard garden in Glenbow as a sacred space for getting well-rooted in spirit as well as in soil. But I’ll let her speak for herself. Mary Anna?

A MAGNET ON OUR FRIDGE proclaims: “I'd rather be in my garden!”

Spending time on my knees, whether digging, planting, or weeding, keeps me close to God's earth as His partner in creation. I put in my effort, and He takes over, causing the plants to germinate, grow and bloom. Meanwhile, I savour the fresh air, the smells of the earth, the plants and flowers, the warmth of the sun, the visits of birds, bees, butterflies and squirrels. 

Watching over our garden is St. Francis of Assisi, legendary for his love of God's creation. I always surround him with pansies or violas who turn their faces up to him. A saying attributed to St. Francis is: "Preach always. And if necessary, use words." Near him hangs a cross on the arbour, adorned by a rose which reached up to it this year.

My father, Ernest Beuter, a Baptist pastor who died when I was eight, and St. Francis would have been great friends, despite their theological differences. They both loved and preached the gospel, and both connected with all of God’s creatures and nature. Now I imagine them strolling together in deep discussion along pathways in celestial gardens, perhaps with various creatures scampering about them. And in my earthly garden, I sense the presence of both of them.

A popular hymn attributed to St. Francis captures well the deeper lessons I’m striving to learn while bending my knees in our sacred garden. I’ll close with lines from Prayer of St. Francis:

Make me a channel of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love;
Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord;
And where there's doubt, true faith in You.

Make me a channel of Your peace.
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope;
Where there is darkness, only light;
And where there's sadness, ever joy.

—Mary Anna Harbeck, Cochrane


© 2020 Warren Harbeck

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