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Gardening teaches us how to relate to others, summit told

In a moving end to the Gather Movement Summit, Dr Natan Mladin from Theos, actor Cathy Morling and Dr Girma Bishaw of the Gratitude Initiative, spoke of how we can all be gardeners in the way we live out our Christian life. 

Cultivating, nuture, care, observance, and patience were all qualities of gardeners, Dr Mladin said, and these are qualities that we can adopt in our Christian lives. 

‘The metaphor of gardening and farming is rich in framing a posture towards the places we are working in,’ he said. 

Gardeners, he said, prepared the ground for growth, sowed for it, celebrated every bit of growth, every element of the harvest, delighted in what they saw, and nurtured what they had grown. They also showed patience in doing this: a harvest didn’t come overnight. 

The Church, he said, needed to adopt the mindset of the gardener, rather than the outlook of the corporate world with its ‘strategies’.

And, he encouraged everyone to remember that we aren’t gardening alone. Jesus is the ultimate gardener. We create the conditions where his kingdom can come, said, but the kingdom ‘is ultimately what God’ makes happen. 

Dr Girma Bishaw encouraged the conference to focus on gratitude as a means of changing relationships and conversations. He said that research had shown that some 70 per cent of our thoughts are negative. ‘It is no wonder that we see all sorts of mental problems, as this is how we think about ourselves and others,’ he said, adding that, ‘the Bible tells us that good has overcome evil. When we start with good, that changes people’s perspectives and conversations.’

The session ended with everyone performing Isaiah 61 under the leadership of actor Cathy Morling, embodying the hope that comes both from gardening and from faith in God. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. 

Author: Hazel Southam, 23 June 2022 (Last updated: 29 June 2022)

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