Dear St. Luke’s Community,

Memorial Day has come and gone and Independence Day is bearing down upon us. The days are longer, the flower, oh my the flowers here are truly a sight. You must remember that I am used to living somewhere where 9 inches of rain is a year’s worth. The green, verdant and colorful gardens everywhere are such a treat to the eye!

I have been reading a book by a man named N. Graham Standish who is a pastor of a Presbyterian Congregation in Pennsylvania. He says that congregations and churches are like gardens. Some he says are like English Gardens, requiring lots of upkeep and planning to maintain their character. Some, he says, are like herb gardens that add flavor and fragrance to the world about it. Others are vegetable gardens, that feed those in the church and the many neighbors as well with hearty and simple fair grown from fertile, loamy earth. Another variety is the cottage garden whose plants are simple and often serve the purpose to create separation and space from noisy and nosy neighbors. Others are like wilderness gardens. Wilderness gardens are grown on large tracts of land, require a bit of planning and maintenance, but are often allowed to grow wild. They have incredibly lush areas and some dead spots as well. Standish thinks that much of New Age Spirituality is like this. Finally Standish offers the conservatory model. It is a garden that has many varied zones and may contain all of the above types (save maybe the wilderness garden). It can be confusing, it takes enormous amounts of time, planning and money to maintain and is not easily accessible or necessarily a place of prolonged respite.

I have been wondering what sort of garden we are at St. Luke’s. I see elements of several and I’m not sure there’s any ‘right’ answer. What is far more interesting to me is to deal with the question, ‘What sort of Garden does God wish for us to plant in this fertile soil?’ I point you all back to the parish profile where there is mention of fertile soil and tilling. Could it be that part of the Holy Conversation into which God is inviting us is to plan, prepare, plant and tend a particular kind of garden (either literally or metaphorically)? I’m not sure of the answer but I’m loving the question.

Shall we all grapple with the question together in the coming months? During the summer we are likely to have the chance to experience some different church settings in our vacation travels. Why not try and find out what kind of garden you’re visiting? See what kind of plants seem to be flourishing there and bring back your stories. Who knows, we might be able to do some transplanting to make this Garden Spot of God more lush, diverse and inviting?

Have a great summer. Bring back your ideas, but most of all, rest in the lushness of God’s garden, wherever you may find it.

Peace and Good,

The Rev. Warren Earl Hicks, Rector
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
921 Pleasant St.
Worcester, MA 01602
508-756-1990 (Office)
508-756-8277 (Fax)

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