The Garden of Life

Alice Cheng

The Artist’s Garden at Giverny, 1900 by Claude Monet

The famous Chinese classical poet, Tao Yuaanming (365–427) owned a field which gave him a nice view of Nanshan Mountain. Claude Monet had a well-grown garden where he could paint beautiful fresh green water lilies. Garden depicts vitality, beauty, tranquility, and peace. On the contrary, an abandoned garden would be a piece of wild land, being so desolate and lonely. The same truth goes with life. How one’s Garden of Life looks depends on how its owner cherishes and takes care of it. The garden can be neglected and destroyed.

The Garden of Grace: Filled with Praises

The Garden of Eden is a dwelling given to mankind by the Creator. The garden is filled with flourishing flowers and fruits, gurgling water, and lively creatures. This garden of grace shows the love and generosity of the Creator although the ancestor broke his faith in God, rebelled and sinned, and was expelled from the Garden of Eden. The universal grace of God still embraces the world. We should thank God for His grace, “…wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.” (Psalm 104:15)

The Garden of Interdependence: Always in Love

God made Eve for Adam as his wife in their home, the Garden of Eden, so they could live a life of love and care for each other. In the Bible, an author depicts the caring and loving relationship between a faithful husband and his beloved wife, building a home sweet home together in the field despite hardships. “My beloved spoke and said to me, Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” (Song of Songs 2:10, 13)

The Garden of Exploration: Appreciation of Life

“Every flower in the Heavenly Garden is the sweetest dessert. Every stamen is the best wine. This flower is written with history.” (from Andersen’s fairy tale “Heavenly Garden”) There is more than food and wine in the world. Knowledge and learning are waiting for us to explore and appreciate. Wisdom topics such as life and death; good and evil; prosperity and failure; love and hate; gathering and dispersion; blessing and misfortune, etc., are more worthy of our deep consideration.

The Garden of Planting: To be harvested

Some parents love to bring their children into a “grand view garden of the world”, urging the children to carry a big basket and pick them along the way, so there is nothing to lose. Life is a planted garden, better than a utilitarian garden. We only need to give our children a small basket containing the seeds of good character and to cultivate the children to build character and virtue. Next is to help them become happy sowers, sowing good seeds anytime and anywhere. This also applies to adults. “A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7b)

The Garden of the Soul: To be Purified

It is better to pursue the inward purification of the soul than seeking an external land of purity. God is a cultivator, and He purifies our lives with truth. Let your heart become fertile soil and humbly accept the seeds of truth and repent. “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (James 1:21)

The Garden of Eternity: Eternal Life

God has made man with soil and man’s body eventually has to return to the soil. The modern “green burial” promotes scattering the ashes of the ancestors to the “ashes park” as a means to return to nature. When a Christian dies, his spirit returns to God the Creator. Since Christ has resurrected, we have the hope of resurrection and the promise of eternal life. Death simply means resting in God, waiting for the glorious resurrection, and entering the eternal garden where the river of life, the tree of life, and our eternal God await us. (Revelation 22:1,2; 21:3)

May your garden of Life enable you to take smooth walks, to enjoy the sunshine, and to feel fresh breezes. Let your paths be filled with beautiful flowers, flourishing trees, and blossoms of fruits.

(Author’s credentials: Bachelor at Overseas Theological Seminary, Master of Pastoral Counseling at Chinese Mission Seminary, Former minister at Hong Kong Christ Evangelical Church and Hiulai Church)

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