This summer my family’s well has almost dried up. We have gone to great lengths to preserve what little water remains. For weeks now we have been barging in on friends with baskets full of dirty laundry and two sticky little kids badly in need of a bath. We collect wash water and minimized toilet flushing. It has been a major inconvenience.
But then there is my garden. My quarter acre food forest full of young fruit trees, berries, herbs, flowers, and a smattering of favorite annual vegetables. The garden is my favorite place in the world. It is where I go to let my mind go silent and engage my hands in the work of nurturing plants, bugs, and soil.
As the weeks passed the drought began to take its toll on the garden. Leaves turning brown at the edges, misshapen cucumbers, floppy peppers, and basil bolting too soon. I used to love to sit in the middle of the garden, surrounded by the riot of green. But I stopped visiting. Harvesting overripe fruit became a chore. The drought was taking its toll on me too.
And then, today, it rained. The topsoil is soaking up the nitrogen filled water and mushrooms are already sprouting, little eruptions of joy. In a few days the whole place will be vibrant again, with strong stalks and buoyant leaves. My relief, my sense of joy for this nourishing rain surprises me. The weight of being without water was heavier than I realized.
The authors of our scripture were familiar with water scarcity. Water was precious to them, living as they did in a warmer, dryer climate than our own. And I am reminded that our text is alive. As we accumulate experiences and perspective, we see an old verse we’ve read so many times with a new understanding.
Isaiah 58:11, “The Lord will guide you always; God will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
The rain today feels like a gift right from God. My garden is well-watered. And the chance to serve as your sabbatical pastor is watering the garden of my soul- another gift for which I am so grateful.