She called to me from the sidewalk. “Your garden is perfect.” I looked up and because I hadn’t quite heard her said, “Oh, hello. What was that?” “Your garden is perfect. Every time I walk by I just love looking at your garden. It’s perfect.” She must have told me how perfect it is five or six times in the span of 60 seconds. Didn’t she know I was still picking weeds? She couldn’t see them.
It was one of the hottest days on record for the year and she was going to the store, walking, to get ice cream. I wondered if she’d make it back before it melted, before she melted. It wasn’t even 8:30 in the morning but the temperature was well over 90. I was trying to catch up on the weeding before it was unbearably hot. Thinking I’d finished, I’d gone on to another yard maintenance task and discovered weeds I’d missed. That’s when she caught my attention.
We got to talking and I found out she attends the First Presbyterian Church of Pomona, a church with whom our congregation has a relationship through OneLA, the broad based organizing group of which our congregation is a member. I know the pastor there and many of the leaders. It’s a small world.
We said our goodbyes and she went on her way to get ice cream. Her statements about perfection rolled over and over in my head. I looked around and thought; it is perfect. Even though I see all the trimming, the weeding, the mulching, the picking that needs to be done, that is part of the process of tending a garden. That is part of its perfection and beauty.
God gives us the gift of tending the garden of our own soul, our very own soul. It’s perfect. That doesn’t mean we are finished or complete. Perhaps we confuse perfection with completion. Part of God’s perfection is the process of tending: trimming the parts of our lives that have served their purpose, weeding the habits and thought patterns that inhibit our capacity to use our gifts creatively, mulching our spirit with prayer and fellowship to protect us from the drying effects of difficulty, picking the fruits of the Spirit as they ripen in our lives.