I’m not talking about gardening as prayer. That’s a good subject, and one that many devout people: Christian, Sufi, Buddist, etc etc could agree upon. But I am not talking about that. I am talking about prayer as gardening.
Praying for people affords me all the joys of gardening: watching things develop, grow, change, bear fruit, thrive, rejuvenate, be healed, etc. Often the “things” are people. All of the wonderful things about gardening, but you can do it from any distance.
If humanity’s vocation, given by God at the beginning, is to till the earth, to steward, manage, tend, and develop the Creation, reflecting the imago dei into the Creator’s world as his appointed regents, then prayer is one of the profoundly incredible ways we are able to do that. Pascal called prayer God granting us the dignity of causation. Aside from the formation, shaping and transformation I myself experience in prayer, I am tending the Creator’s world. This is an act of love of world-shaping significance.
What a joy it brought me this past week at a conference in Missouri, to be able to walk up to people I cherish and say to them “I’ve been praying for you every day. For your health, safety, protection, your children, your marriage, your spouse, your own happiness, and fulfillment in what God has you doing.”
Praying is like Jean Giono’s marvelous parable The Man Who Planted Trees. I am not only communing with God, I am gardening the world.