While playing golf yesterday, someone asked if I was playing my little homemade golf course. I said, “No, I just take care of it, mow it, water it, kind of like a garden, a hobby. Just like my wife Karen, who works in her garden beside the 8th tee box. We work together at different passions but they both involve sweat and lots of looking at the ground, into the dirt, at it’s soul, it’s barrenness, it’s fertility.
What is it inside our nature to get our hands dirty, to dig in the dirt, to look down like stubborn mules on a plow team?
Is it the same urge that causes our necks to swivel toward the stars?
We look up for inspiration, we look down at aspiration. We look at the night sky in wonder and we look down in the dirt with sweat-dripping determination.
According to David Brooks in his book, “Recently, I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you list on your résumé, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being — whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed. Most of us would say that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé virtues, but I confess that for long stretches of my life I’ve spent more time thinking about the latter than the former. Our education system is certainly oriented around the résumé virtues more than the eulogy ones. Public conversation is, too — the self-help tips in magazines, the nonfiction bestsellers. Most of us have clearer strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character.”
This swiveling of our necks up and down is the struggle between our résumé nature that wants to plant and grow wonderful things in the earth, and our eulogy nature that seeks to plant and grow transcendence, a reaching upward beyond our known world to a world of hope and possibility.
So much of what we see looking down with sweat on our brow is grace and truth, the garden in the tilled soil. What we look for in the dirt nourishes us, vegetables and flowers, grace and peace, a crop of hope.
What we gaze up at in the still of the evening is that which is very close to God, planted in toil in the garden. In an amazing reversal, we look down through our garden Hubble telescope and find the organic growing of our hearts which tells us what God is like, a master gardener growing people closer to His invisible wonder, which gives us pause and moments of upward gazing at what we might one day be.
John 1:17 The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But God the only Son is very close to the Father, and he has shown us what God is like.