My grandparents lived on a farm in northern Alberta where I would spend many summer days when I was a kid. My nuclear family lived in the city, or the suburbs and it was in these summers where I got to experience more fully life on the land. My grandparents were hay farmers and there were things for this city kid to explore on the farm and trouble to get into. I spent much of my time jumping between the roofs of the granaries and eating crab apples, chokecherries, saskatoons, and gooseberries from trees and shrubs I found around the homestead. But my favorite place was my grandmother’s garden.
I remember it being as big as a football field. I don’t know if that is a little kid size inflation, maybe if I saw it today, I wouldn’t think it was quite that big, but the garden was big. My uncles and aunt assured it me that it used to be much bigger than that and what I was seeing was the pared down version. At one end of the garden was an unruly and sprawling raspberry patch, followed by strawberries. There were rows of corn, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, cabbage, peas, carrots, squash, pumpkins, watermelon, onions, potatoes, garlic, dill, tomatoes, and poppies and more I am forgetting. Each day my grandmother would be in this garden or in her flower beds weeding and watering and tending her plants. She would pick veggies for dinner or harvest a cabbage when its leaves were still tender enough to be rolled into Ukrainian cabbage rolls or unearth enough potatoes to make a pierogies.
I would wander into the garden whenever I was hungry, and I would graze! My fingers were stained red from eating raspberries and strawberries, and I would stand in the middle of the garden sucking young peas from their pods, or eating the ripe red tomatoes, or rattling the dry head of poppy plants and pouring the seeds encased inside into my mouth and crunching on them. Occasionally I would go and uproot a carrot and wash it off with the hose, or snack on the cucumbers and beans or zucchini.
I was welcome to go into that garden and pick and eat whatever I wanted. But no matter how much I filled my mouth with berries or peas, or poppies there was always more to have. My grandmother’s basement was full of canning, and every freezer was full of freezer jams and frozen vegetables.
If someone dropped by for lunch, she could send me to get something and there was always something on hand to offer them. I wouldn’t have called this sacred when I was younger, it was the ordinary joy I experienced during those summers on the farm, but as I think about it now, my grandmother’s garden was an icon of God’s abundance—a nourishing bounty that was always more than enough.
Ephesians 3:20 tells us that “God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us.” Too often the threat of scarcity keeps us from seeing the ways that God is at work in us. We worry about money and resources, and bills and the demands that are on our attention and our time. It is so easy to feel like we are not enough. And we are not. But God invites us into a garden where we can take and eat what we find there and find that we never diminish the bounty of good things God has in store for us. We operate out of scarcity, but God operates from abundance. Can we trust that what God has for us is always more than enough?