“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.”
― George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God
My Sunday morning has been the same for the past twenty years, but for the occasional illness, vacation, or work-trip. I attend worship services at my church, where for most of that time, I have served as and for most recent years, lead the Ushers. Though I rise early seven days a week, on Sundays walking the dog (or dogs) has been routine preparation for my participation at church. While we have many adherents to rising early to commune daily with the Lord in a “quiet time” — praying, reading Scripture, and meditation, I have added or sometimes replaced this with a brisk, long walk with the dogs.
This by no means relieves me of my need and desire to commune with my God. But my motivation and general attitude toward a walk – particularly on Sunday – has been improving. With Dexter on one leash and Comet on the other, pooper-scoop balanced on one of my free fingers, I spend much of the walk in a choreographed shifting of leashes and scoop as the dogs jostle for ‘lead’ with each other. We meet, pass, and nod greetings to the occasional neighborhood dog-walker, jogger or homeowner. As I am now becoming much more acclimated to a brisk pace up and down the hills in my neighborhood, and recognizing people we’ve encountered before, I can have small conversations without wheezing. A mention of my prayer -walk and pre- worship service dog constitutionals are sometimes commented upon positively. We might talk about dogs, gardens, gophers and so on.
On this particular day, after returning from church in early afternoon, I ventured into my backyard, where yesterday I had planted a fruit tree, to plant the other. But Comet had decided to help the newly planted tree today by digging a little of the soft dirt out and fertilizing the spot. With the appropriateness of a man who had spent a few hours communing with Jesus and our fellowship, I calmly scolded the dog, cleaned the mess, and replaced the soil.
And with the resourcefulness of a man who had a bundle of rebar from a long-delayed concrete patio project, and 30 feet of chicken wire in a corner of the backyard, I spent the next hour tamping in rebar stakes and fastening the wire to hinder my garden “helper”. Of course, as Adam’s garden helper, Eve, in the pre-apple days, probably indicated a few aesthetic improvements, I imagine that I will have to replace the overly -long rebar stakes with a more appropriate barricade. After all, it is the nature of a dog to do what it does; and it is the nature of a husband to re-do what a wife thinks is more aesthetically pleasing.
featured image, Rex Preston, 1948, abstract landscapes