This is one of my very favourite poems. Anyone who is passionate about gardening may well appreciate it too. It brings to mind what the great mystic Julian of Norwich wrote –
wondering what kind of work it might be
that the servant would do.
Then I understood the he (the Christ) would do the greatest work and hardest toil that is.
He would be a gardener,
digging and ditching,
straining and sweating,and turning over the earth,
and seeking the depths,
and waterimg the plants on time.
And in this he would continue his labour
and make sweet streams to run,
and noble and plenteous fruits to spring, which he would bring before the lord
and serve him therewith to his delight.’
Christ as a gardener
The boxwoods planted in the park spelled LIVE.
I never noticed it until they died.
Before, the entwined green had smudged the word
unreadable. And when they take their own advice
again – come spring, come Easter – no one will know
a word is buried in the leaves. I love the way
that Mary thought her resurrected Lord
a gardener. It wasn’t just the broad-brimmed hat
and muddy robe that fooled her: he was that changed.
He looks across the unturned field, the riot
of unscathed grass, the smattering of wildflowers.
Before he can stop himself, he’s on his knees.
He roots up stubborn weeds, pinches the suckers,
deciding order here – what lives, what dies,
and how. But it goes deeper even than that.
His hands burn and his bare feet smolder. He longs
to lie down inside the long, dew-moist furrows
and press his pierced side and his broken forehead
into the dirt. But he’s already done it –
passed through one death and out the other side.
He laughs. He kicks his bright spade in the earth
and turns it over. Spring flashes by, then harvest.
Beneath his feet, seeds dance into the air.
They rise, and he, not noticing, ascends
on midair steppingstones of dandelion,
of milkweed, thistle, cattail, and goldenrod.
By Andrew Hudgins