House gardens: reminders of who created beauty in the first place

If we’re to think globally and act locally, then I suppose we must be especially ecologically minded at home.

But this must mean more than using organic lawn products or reducing household toxins. We also do well in making our homes and yards reminders for all of the beauty of creation.

I was thinking of this driving home from lunch with long-time, long-unseen friends. To avoid the summer beach traffic, I took the back roads from Rhode Island’s coastal south. This brought me through rural areas that had wonderful house gardens—whether modest or elaborate, or just a few planters on the front steps. These were the gardens of mostly small, simple homes—and yet with their gardens, they looked to be nestled in Eden.

As a gardener myself, I appreciate when people say how much they enjoy passing by my yard. I’m glad that my efforts delight others. Home gardens transform communities and lift souls. They remind us of the great glory of God’s work in the world.

This takes me to an observation made after lunch by one of my friends. She is a woman who does not adhere to an organized family of faith—but she was interested in what I had to tell her about Benedict XVI’s teachings about love, relationship and much more. Turns out, what she had to say was a wonderful, theologically powerful statement in itself, one which the likes of Benedict XVI and Karl Barth would have approved. As we were talking about our gardens, I noted that much of my yard’s beauty comes from various types of hosta—those easy-to-maintain, fast-growing, lush-leaved shade-loving plants. Within a few days in early spring, I said, my borders are transformed from barren stretches to leafy beauty, thanks primarily to hosta being hosta and sprouting their leaves with majesty. This prompted my friend to say something like “I know, we take all the credit for our gardens when it’s really God doing all the work.”

How true she was! It’s always good to be reminded of the primacy of God’s grace.

So, a quick prayer: Thank you, God. People may compliment me on my yard, but its beauty is part of your creation, for which you rightly deserve our praise.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.