Know Who You Are. That’s Half the Battle.

Did you hear the one about the gardener who held a lawn party? He created a beautiful rose garden on the sight of the old town dump. At the grand opening, local town dignitaries, the news media, and even his pastor were invited to tour the marvelous rows of brilliant flowers.

Of course the pastor, ever anxious to preach and instruct, was waxing on about “the exquisite beauty of God’s creation.” And how, “The heavenly scent of each different flower could only come from God.” And finally that, “God Himself is the greatest gardener of all.”

“Yeah?” said the gardener. “You should have smelled God’s garden before I got a hold of it.”

The story in Genesis about the Garden of Eden gives us some critical information about life here on earth. The rebellion of Adam and Eve caused the garden to likewise rebel. From then on the earth would resist man’s efforts to cultivate it. (This is a great mystery by the way . . . why nature spawns things like drought or plagues of locust or cancer.)

“Cursed be the ground because of you. In toil shall you be all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you. By the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat . . . till you return to the earth from which you were taken.” Gen. 3:18, 19.

Work which had been meaningful and a pleasure, now had become hard and frustrating. (I don’t have to tell you that do I!). Nothing seems to want to work out. Things tend to fall apart. That’s just the way it is.

Think about it, your house, your job, your marriage, your parenting, your parish . . . All require hard work …or … they fall apart.

Fortunately, there are marvelous developments in the past 50 years to help those who struggle to make ends meet.

Welfare, unemployment benefits, Social Security and a faulty, but honest attempt at universal health care are all government’s attempts to help those in need.

I am glad for these achievements. But they are only there to “help”. They don’t relieve us of our duty to discover who we are through our life’s work.

We seem to have settled for something “less” than who we are. We’ve lost our “Purpose”. Flushed with the fun and ease of our internet lives, “living for the weekend”, sports and entertainment, and life styles that require 2 and 3 jobs to support, we can lose a sense of who we are and why we’re here.

Think about it. Who are you? What defines you?

A student? A Democrat/Republican? Spouse/parent? A Bills fan? A video game player? All these interests are just a part of who you are. Is there some way to understand ourselves that captures all of us; something that tells us what to work for?

There is.

But, it’s a definition that doesn’t come from the world. In fact, “the reason the world does not know us is that it doesn’t know God. Beloved, we are God’s children now . . . and when He is revealed, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 Jn. 3:1, 2.

When we start living from this staggering truth about ourselves everything changes. We can begin to treat our neighbor as brother or sister. We can use the things of this world in a way that no longer drugs us from the sadness of meaningless lives. Recreation, food, earthly pleasures are used to serve the higher vision of who we are.

This radical vision of human life comes from Christ. He shows us who we are.

Straight ahead now. Let’s get to work on God’s garden.

Fr. Tim