Spring/Summer Theme: A Boston Garden

We have a garden.

It’s an 8×4′ rectangle made of wood and filled with four plastic bins of fresh composted soil. A local non-profit, The Food Project (whose mission is to create personal and social change through sustainable agriculture … check them out!), takes urban youth around the city building these raised-bed garden plots and introducing urban gardening.  We even get a bunch of seeds and seedlings, as well as exhaustive instructions on square foot gardening, with the raised bed.

Several of our friends here in East Boston are also gardening this summer. One other couple had TFP build them a garden, and two couples have plots in the local community garden.  It’s truly a unique and fulfilling experience not only to be gardening, but to be doing it in community.

dscn4475Ever since we started several of our seedlings indoors back in mid-March (see photo to right), I have been taken by the whole endeavor. It’s hard to describe the connection one feels to a seed that one plants and then watches sprout, growing steadily every day.  One of my favorite things to see so far is when the window shade closest to the seedlings is closed and the other open, the seedlings all lean toward where the sun — their ultimate life source — is streaming in.  It’s amazing.  How do they know to do that?

The NPR show called “Speaking of Faith”* recently had a show titled “Restoring the Senses: Life, Gardening & an Orthodox Easter.”  It’s basically an interview with an Orthodox theologian who draws a great deal of life inspiration from his garden.  Hearing him speak of it with such passion is quite amazing.  I love the Orthodox tradition’s connection to the natural world, especially through gardening.  And if you don’t have an hour to devote to the entire podcast (it’s really worth it), several of the documents on the segment’s page are also quite inspiring.

Here’s the link: http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2009/restoringthesenses/

I plan to make gardening — and specifically its connection with spirituality — the dominant theme throughout the warmer months of 2009.  It’s an activity so rich in meaning and so close to the heart of God.  I hope to make the case that we can learn so much about what it means to be truly human (in the most spiritual way) from gardens.  I will likely draw heavily on the “Restoring the Senses” segment, along with any other resources I find.  I plan to re-organize my blogroll to integrate some helpful gardening links.  For those of who who read this and think, “Gardening?!”, I ask you to bear with me and stick it out.  I was one of those über-males (those of you who know me are chuckling right now) who was as disinterested as one could be about gardening — that is, until I started one.  When I did that, a whole world of meaning and rich metaphor and wonder opened up, and it has truly re-invigorated my spiritual pursuit.

So I challenge the skeptics out there to stick around and see how the garden might do the same for you.

Fending off seedling mold with cinnamon (really!),


* If you listen to podcasts, or even if you don’t, this program is well worth your time.  There are few resources out there that so intelligently engage diverse subjects and ideas relating to religion, philosophy and ethics, tying it all back to the way we live.  I’m hooked.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Daniel Gray on April 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    We recently tilled up our backyard in inner-city St. Louis — I’m excited about the prospects of growing our own food, but so far, we haven’t had a lot of sprouts. I agree — at least in theory — there’s something spiritual about following mother nature’s natural growth cycle. In reality, I might starve this year. 🙂

    Thanks for the heads up on the podcast — I’ll have to check it out.


  2. Ah, takes me back to my humble beginnings raising tobacco on my father’s farm in Western Kentucky.

    Yours and Chrissy’s project gives new meaning to the term Harvest Boston.


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