Being made in the image of the man (‘adam), who was formed from the dust of the
” ground” (‘adamah), I love tending my garden, turning over the soil, planting, feeding and pruning. I always look forward to spring, when the earth breaks forth with new life. It was particularly comforting this year, as our rose garden exploded with fragrant scents and vibrant colors, as if it were totally ignoring the pandemic we faced. I was very optimistic when our rose bushes burst forth with prolific new buds and glossy green leaves after the winter pruning. As the blooms matured I took great joy in refreshing our breakfast table each day with several vases of newly cut roses. It was the most promising harvest of fragrance and beauty our garden had ever produced.
But it wasn’t long before “thorns and thistles” of every kind—black spot, powdery mildew, rust—appeared. I tenaciously tried to remove all the yellow and damaged leaves, which is impossible without getting cut by the thorns. As I was inspecting the leaves, I noticed that the disease was most prolific on older plants and where leaves were dense with less exposure to air and sunlight. After removing the leaves, I sprayed the roses with a liberal dose of chemicals, hoping this would bring a swift end to my garden plight.
When I examined my roses in the days that followed, it looked like my plight had turned into a plague with new disease erupting everywhere. There was no quick fix. Now I’m back to square one, diligently removing the diseased leaves and allowing more sunlight and air to aid in the healing process.
Like faithful friends, my roses remind me that creation is a mirror of mankind. Though our communities may appear vibrant and healthy, the truth is what lies dormant underneath. Epidemiologists are of course still gathering data, and it will be years or more before we have a solid understanding of which social distancing protocols are the most beneficial for society overall. Nevertheless, one possibility is that coming out from sheltering in place too early could prolong our crisis indefinitely. Therefore, despite the myriad unknowns, I am thankful for the political leaders who made fast and decisive decisions, implementing the most severe restrictions—lockdowns, social distancing and universal testing to protect their nations in the face of this pandemic. I am also thankful for the policies that help those members of the PBCC family who have been forced out of work by the lockdown to survive financially, and for our community rallying around the most vulnerable.
May the Lord be gracious and merciful to us, granting us patience to endure and wisdom to our leaders at every level to guide us safely home. Amen.