Talking Point – August 2023

Reverend Margaret Dimmick

You are nearer to God in a garden than anywhere else on Earth

WHEN I WAS a child, my mother used to plait my hair in the mornings to get ready for school and she would tell me phrases she could remember being told by her mother. Particularly when she had been out in our small garden to weed or plant, or just tidy up, she would say that it was a happy place for her, and I learned from both my parents the seasons when flowers and vegetables would flower or be ready to eat and enjoy. There was so much to look forward to.
It was natural that I should want to have a house with a garden. When I was first married, I lived and worked in London, where flat dwelling without a garden was frustrating and I had to make do with a few house plants, I looked forward to a garden.
My chance came when we moved to Norfolk with my husband’s work. Here, I could use my imagination to carve out flower beds and a vegetable patch, plant small trees and make places for our children to play. It was by turns satisfying and worrying, as I could see my family enjoying playing, while the adults were panting, mowing and resting. There was always something to be done.
Was this how God felt when he was creating the heavens and the earth? I now feel I am rushing to catch up; it’s my fault for wanting so many flowers and vegetables, they have to be put in at the right time. I am reminded that when God created, he also rested, looked at his work and saw it was very good.
A few weeks ago, I met my Franciscan friends for a quiet day. We were at the church in Cold Ash on a very warm June day. We had the opportunity to go out to their garden, which was the old part of the cemetery. Some gravestones were so old, the dedications had disappeared, and they had been carefully moved to the edge. The grass had been left to grow long in patches, and we were surrounded by trees.
Sitting in the shade, we could hear birds calling, small finches, songbirds, and a Tawny Owl, awake and marking territory. I counted fifteen species of wildflowers and trees. It was just what I wanted, time to stop and just ‘be’. It was time to open myself to God’s presence and wait on him, to discover not doing anything gives you time to appreciate the natural world and contemplate the wonder of our mother earth, as St. Francis put it in his Canticle of the creatures.
I had discovered a happy place. It was a calming and positive time. Just now and again I would thoroughly recommend it!
The Reverend Margaret Dimmick is an Anglican priest and a member of the ministry team at Caversham Park United Reform Church