As I sit down to write this reflection we celebrate the Vernal Equinox, today is the first day of spring.  This past week we’ve been enjoying warm weather and getting our last runs in on the slopes; the trees are budding and many are eagerly peeping at the nursery to see if it is open – we are ready to garden!  Never mind that it is snowing today.

While we journey toward the garden with great anticipation, this week we are also invited to journey toward another garden, the garden of Gethsemane – the garden on the Mt. of Olives, an olive grove, where Jesus spends his last moments with his disciples before being arrested.  There are several gardens in the scriptures, the very first being Eden – a garden recorded in primordial mythology, where the story of God’s great love for humanity is first expereinced.  The story tells us that this was a garden of great beauty, where humanity and Divinity were one; there was peace on earth.

What does a garden of love look like, feel like, smell like, taste like, sound like?  What if we couldn’t see this garden of love but could only rely on our other senses to interpret for us, this great love?  We are quick to judge something by its appearance, it is said that we first eat with our eyes; and that we decide within seconds of meeting a person whether we find them desirable or not – before they’ve even spoken we’ve made this conclusion based on a visual scan.  So, let’s close our eyes and experience this garden, perceive this love, without the sense of sight. 

How might we perceive love through smell?   Does love smell like flowers, herbs, rain, or the sun on the grass?  What about taste?  Does love taste like mint, ripe fruit, or freshly picked peas?  What does love feel like? Is it crisp, juicy like a fresh tomato, soft, warm like the sun, cool, dense like soil in our palm, or a refreshing breeze across our skin?  What does love sound like? Could it be the buzz of a bee as it jumps from flower to flower, or a bird’s song, maybe it is the sound of the earth under our feet?

What if we encountered people this way, through senses other than sight?  Might we perceive them differently? 

Gardens are spaces of transformation. They work in mysterious ways, amplifying the transformation of the human condition, the human heart.  In order to experience this transformation we must encounter life in a new way.  We must see the hidden beauty, that which cannot be perceived with the eye. 

As we look at the garden of Gethsemane might we also see beauty?  The same beautiful love for humanity that we read of in Eden – of a love so great for all humankind that one would lay down his life in a martyr’s death?  This is a strange, alien beauty indeed.  How might our human condition, our hearts, be transformed by this garden?