Scripture ~ “They took my Master,” Mary said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him. Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?” She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Sir, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried, “Teacher!” John 20:14-16
Spiritual Focus ~ “Our bodies are our gardens; our wills are our gardeners.” William Shakespeare
Breath Prayer ~ Inhale – God’s will, Exhale – be done
Devotion ~ That first Easter morning was probably not one of high energy and jubilation nor shouts of “He is Risen!” and “Alleluia”. John’s gospel sets the scene for Jesus’ first appearance after his resurrection in a garden. Mary arrives quietly at dawn, seemingly alone, sad and exhausted, ready to perform the ritual preparation for Jesus’ body. She sees the empty tomb and her energy changes to panic; Jesus is not there! In her panic she turns and sees someone. Thinking it is the gardener, she admonishes him to tell her where they have taken the body. She doesn’t recognize Jesus until he calls her name. Then her energy shifts to a deep, abiding joy that Jesus lives, and she responds in love.
This Easter scene introduces the image of Jesus in a garden as a metaphor of new life. It opens us to the idea that our lives are nurtured by the One who has experienced being in the body, who has suffered for the sake of love, and has returned to tend to us as we navigate the challenges of being human. The Bible mentions three primary gardens as metaphors for life: the Garden of Eden, the original creative expression of God, the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed to God, “Not my will but thine”, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb in today’s scripture. As with gardens, we cultivate a sacred life by nourishing the soil, planting seeds, pruning and weeding. Sun, water, even wind, and patience are required. Gardens flourish when they have a gardener—sometimes more than one—who offers wisdom and helps transform these elements into beauty and fruit.
In his blogpost “Mistaken as a Gardener” Pastor Brian Zahnd writes, “With Christ as the gardener of new creation we have a hopeful eschatology (future.)” In the upcoming devotional series, we will explore the intersections of faith, yoga, and how the body is the sacred place where the soul is tended by the Divine Gardener. Happy, peaceful Easter!