Sermon quotes on gardening/farming

Douglas Adams (For Contrast)

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

Ancient Chinese Proverb

If your vision is for a year, plant wheat.

If your vision is for ten years, plant trees.

If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.

Ancient Chinese Proverb

All gardeners know better than other gardeners.

Maya Angelou

On Saturday afternoons when all the things are done in the house and there’s no real work to be done, I play Bach and Chopin and turn it up real loudly and get a good bottle of chardonnay and sit out on my deck and look out at the garden.

Wendell Berry

Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Wendell Berry

One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener’s own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.

Wendell Berry

We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?

Wendell Berry

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.

The unsettling of America: culture & agriculture”, Random House, 1978.

Elizabeth Barrett Browing

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes –

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.


If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

Abraham Cowley

May I a small house and large garden have;

And a few friends,

And many books, both true.

W.E.B. DuBois

Lord make us mindful of the little things that grow and blossom in these days to make the world beautiful for us.

John Fowles

I can stick artificial flowers on this tree that will not flower; or I can create the conditions in which the tree is likely to flower naturally. I may have to wait longer for my real flowers; but they are the only true ones.

The Aristos, Little, Brown Publishing Co.

Thomas Fuller

A good garden may have some weeds.

Vigen Guroian

I think that gardening is nearer to godliness than theology.

 Inheriting Paradise

Barbara Kingsolver

I have seen women looking at jewelry ads with a misty eye and one hand resting on the heart, and I only know what they’re feeling because that’s how I read the seed catalogs in January.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Rudyard Kipling

Adam was a gardener, and God, who made him, sees that half of all good gardening is done upon the knees.

Rudyard Kipling

God gave all men all the earth to love but, since our hearts are so small, ordained for each, one spot to be beloved over all.

Stanley Kunitz

Almost anything you do in the garden, for example weeding, is an effort to create some sort of order out of nature’s tendency to run wild. There has to be a certain degree of domestication in a garden. The danger is that you can so tame your garden that it becomes a thing. It becomes landscaping.

The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden

Abraham Lincoln

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

A Lutheran Prayer for Holy Communion

Let the vineyards be fruitful, Lord, and fill to the brim our cup of blessing. Gather a harvest from the seeds that were sown, that we may be fed with the bread of life. Gather the hopes and dreams of all; unite them with the prayers we offer. Grace our table with Your presence, and give us a foretaste of the feast to come. Amen!

Gordon MacDonald

For me the appropriate metaphor for the inner spiritual centre is a garden, a place of potential peace and tranquility.  This garden is a place where the Spirit of God comes to make self-disclosure to share wisdom, to give affirmation or rebuke, to provide encouragement, and to give direction and guidance.  When this garden is in proper order, it is a quiet place, and there is an absence of busyness, of defiling noise, of confusion.  The inner garden is a delicate place, and if not properly maintained it will be quickly overrun by intrusive under-growth.  God does not often walk in disordered gardens.  And that is why inner gardens that are ignored are said to be empty.

Cultivating Our Spiritual Garden

W.S. Merwin

A garden is made of hope.

What Is a Garden?

Henry Mitchell

Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise.

Claude Monet

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.

Chris Nye

We cannot abandon the soil for the microwave.

Less of More: Pursuing Spiritual Abundance in a World of Never Enough

Parker J. Palmer

We are exploring together. We are cultivating a garden together, backs to the sun. The question is a hoe in our hands and we are digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives.

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

William Penn

The Country is both the Philosopher’s Garden and his Library, in which he Reads and Contemplates the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God.

Some Fruits of Solitude In Reflections And Maxims, 1682

Michael Pollan

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. ”

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Michael Pollan

A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.”

Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

Michael Pollan

Tree planting is always a utopian enterprise, it seems to me, a wager on a future the planter doesn’t necessarily expect to witness.

Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

Beatrix Potter

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were–Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.

George Bernard Shaw (For Contrast-sort of)

The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.

Shel Silverstein

“Ol’ man Simon, planted a diamond. Grew hisself a garden the likes of none. Sprouts all growin’ comin’ up glowin’ Fruit of jewels all shinin’ in the sun. Colors of the rainbow. See the sun and the rain grow sapphires and rubies on ivory vines, Grapes of jade, just ripenin’ in the shade, just ready for the squeezin’ into green jade wine.”

Judith Sutera

Good vines require cutting and more cutting. A mile of runners won’t give you one more grape, so get rid of branches that do not bear fruit. Do you want to keep everything? Then expect nothing. Cut. And then cut some more.

The Vinedresser’s Notebook: Spiritual Lessons in Pruning, Waiting, Harvesting & Abundance (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2014), 20–21, 70–71.

J.R.R. Tolkien

“For you little gardener and lover of trees, I have only a small gift. Here is set G for Galadriel, but it may stand for garden in your tongue. In this box there is earth from my orchard, and such blessing as Galadriel has still to bestow is upon it. It will not keep you on your road, nor defend you against any peril; but if you keep it and see your home again at last, then perhaps it may reward you. Though you should find all barren and laid waste, there will be few gardens in Middle-earth that will bloom like your garden, if you sprinkle this earth there. Then you may remember Galadriel, and catch a glimpse far off of Lórien, that you have seen only in our winter. For our spring and our summer are gone by, and they will never be seen on earth again save in memory.”

The Fellowship of the Ring

 Mies Van Der Rohe

God is in the details.

Horace Walpole

When people will not weed their own minds, they are apt to be overrun by nettles.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

A weed is but an unloved flower.

Norman Wirzba

Gardening, besides being a practical, life-nurturing task, is also always a spiritual activity. In it people attempt to make visible and tasty what is good, beautiful, and even holy. Every act of gardening presupposes and embodies a way of relating to creation, a way that invariably invokes moral and spiritual decisions. Though membership in a garden is a given, how we will take our place in the membership is not. Our aim must be to develop into good gardeners, gardeners who work harmoniously among the flows of life. This means that besides vegetables, flowers, and fruit, gardeners are themselves undergoing a spiritual cultivation into something beautiful and sympathetic and healthy. A caring, faithful, and worshipping humanity is one of the garden’s most important crops.

Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition, 2019.

Norman Wirzba

Gardening is never simply about gardens. It is work that reveals the meaning and character of humanity, and is an exercise and demonstration of who we take ourselves and creation to be. It is the most direct and practical site where we can learn the art and discipline of being creatures. Here we concretely and practically see how we relate to the natural world, to other creatures, and ultimately to the Creator. We discover whether we are prepared to honor these relations by nurture and care and celebration, or despise and abuse them. Gardens are a microcosm of the universe in which all the living and nonliving elements of life meet, elements ranging from geological formations and countless biochemical reactions to human inventiveness and age-old traditions about cuisine and beauty. When and how we garden gives expression to how we think we fit in the world. Through the many ways we produce and consume food, we bear witness to our ability or failure to gratefully and humbly receive creation as a gift from God.

Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Cambridge University Press, 2nd Edition, 2019.

Maximos the Confessor (c. 580–662)

Sometimes when a farmer is looking for a suitable spot in which to plant a tree, he unexpectedly comes across a treasure. Something similar may happen to the seeker after God.

Robert Pogue Harrison

History without gardens would be a wasteland.

Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), x. 

Rudolf Borchardt

What the human being shares with nature, what we demand from nature and entrust to nature, what we long for and reject, this may all become song and poetry, or music and philosophy, or myth and religion; but in the visible world it must sooner or later become a garden, if it desires to make itself visible at all; and the achievement of visibility – as distinct from simple thinkability, and understandability – is its most irresistible drive, as an inherent part, like all the creative drives of the human race, of the one primordial drive to give birth to structure. 

The Passionate Gardener (Kingston, NY: McPherson, 2006), 32.

Nicholas Lash

God’s garden, made “in the beginning,” does not lie behind us, but ahead of us, in hope, and, in the meantime, all around us as our place of work.

Believing Three Ways in the One God: A Reading of the Apostle’s Creed (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992), 124. 

Karel Čapek

[A gardener cultivates soil more than plants.] He lives buried in the ground. He builds his monument in a heap of compost. If he came into the Garden of Eden he would sniff excitedly and say: ‘Good Lord, what humus!’

The Gardener’s Year (New York: Modern Library, 2002)

Karel Capek

We say that Nature rests, yet she is working like mad. She has only shut up shop and pulled the shutters down; but behind them she is unpacking new goods, and the shelves are becoming so full that they bend under the load. This is the real spring; what is not done now will not be done in April.

The Gardener’s Year (New York: Modern Library, 2002)

Ellen F. Davis

Food production entails at every stage judgments and practices that bear directly on the health of the earth and living creatures, on the emotional, economic, and physical well-being of families and communities, and ultimately on their survival. Therefore, sound agricultural practice depends upon knowledge that is at one and the same time chemical and biological, economic, cultural, philosophical, and (following the understanding of most farmers in most places and times) religious. Agriculture involves questions of value and therefore of moral choice, whether or not we care to admit it.

Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Ellen F. Davis

Overall, from a biblical perspective, the sustained fertility and habitability of the earth, or more particularly of the land of Israel, is the best index of the health of the covenant relationship. When humanity, or the people Israel, is disobedient, thorns and briars abound (Gen. 3:17–19); rain is withheld (Deut. 11:11–17; 28:24); the land languishes and mourns (Isa. 16:8; 33:9; Hos. 4:3). Conversely, the most extravagant poetic images of loveliness – in the Prophets, the Psalms, and the Song of Songs – all show a land lush with growth, together with a people living in (or restored to) righteousness and full intimacy with God. “Truth [or: faithfulness, emet] springs up from the earth [’eres]” (Ps. 85:12)

Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Norman Wirzba

A gardener’s education begins with the realization that we are never exempt from the needs and requirements of care. It is formed through sustained attention to and responsibility for the places that give us life. It ends with the praise that affirms the grace of our life together.

Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Though he works and worries, the farmer never reaches down to where the seed turns into summer. The earth grants. 

John Calvin

Let him who possesses a field, so partake of its yearly fruits, that he may not suffer the ground to be injured by his negligence; but let him endeavor to hand it down to posterity as he received it, or even better cultivated. Let him so feed on its fruits that he neither dissipates it by luxury, nor permits to be marred or ruined by neglect. Moreover, that this economy, and this diligence, with respect to those good things which God has given us to enjoy, may flourish among us; let every one regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses. Then he will neither conduct himself dissolutely, nor corrupt by abuse those things which God requires to be preserved.

Commentary on Genesis, 1554.

John Calvin

The custody of the garden was given in charge to Adam, to show that we possess the things which God has committed to our hands, on the condition that, being content with the frugal and moderate use of them, we should take care of what shall remain … let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses.

Commentary on Genesis, 1554.

Wendell Berry

The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.

Leonardo da Vinci

Even the richest soil, if left uncultivated will produce the rankest weeds.

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