On my morning walk, I saw a beautiful set of flowering plants in landscape adorning a local community college. The morning sun upon the plants brought forth the vibrancy of their shapes and colors. The scene was “glorious,” but also spoke of the source of glory, the glory of the Creator of shapes and colors. I marveled at the God who loves to create such wonders in such myriad designs for the delight of the eye. But what of the labor of the gardener I also saw that morning? Should he not get some credit for this display?
The gardener at his work, on his knees, reaching, pulling, and disposing, had filled three tall trash barrels at his side. This man was created by the same power that had created the flowering plants and he was within the same life-sustaining system that supported them. The man at work was as much in God’s creative palate at the sun, water, and earth. I could see that God had always envisioned this relation of man and garden, inseparable, as much within the grand evolutionary design that bees would pollinate these same plants to bloom.
But for today, it was the sight of the three barrels of pulled weeds at the gardener’s side that drew my attention. Often, we see the beauty as always there, unaware that the beauty is also the result of what is not there. In music, it is the spaces between the notes, in youth, it is the wrinkles of aging not yet formed, in health it is the absence of sickness, in love it is the absence of hate. These negatives always contend moment by moment for space in our thoughts, emotions, and actions. They are called sin, bad karma, or guilt. They are the weeds pulled by the gardener. They are the excesses that must be cut for our souls to flourish.
Jesus said we are to live in the Kingdom and the Kingdom is now. What does that mean in a world mostly divested of monarchs? The term “Kingdom” means a state of being under the rule and protection of God, as a King is charged with watching over his kingdom. God’s laws are set in place. We are an integrated part of the physical and metaphysical system that operates according to those laws. Rebellion against these principles brings war and destruction, either internal to the individual or external to the community. Jesus said he would separate the pure from the corrupt, the good from the evil. The new world under his full authority will be defined by an absence of evil. It would be like the garden I passed this morning, its beauty defined not only by what remained but also by what was removed.