In 2018, my husband Bill and I moved into our new home. The backyard was not exactly a wilderness, but it was no Garden of Eden either. The previous owner of the property had minimized maintenance to be able to keep up, and so what we saw was a combination of gravel and three fruit trees. I always wanted a big yard, so now that I had the opportunity, I went to work. Arizona gardening has its challenges due to extreme heat in the summer. Even the most sun-loving plants get tired in Arizona heat, so the best bet for successful desert gardening is to create shelter and provide the right amount of water. We had three mature trees at our disposal, and I planted my first plants underneath those trees. The more plants we have, the more cooling effect to the yard because all plants create shade. While the mature trees sheltered the new plants, my mints, garden herbs and flowers cooled the soil and trapped the moisture so the trees benefited too, a classic symbiotic relationship.
I moved from Cologne/Germany to Phoenix/Arizona approximately three months prior to September 11, 2001, when on a quiet Tuesday morning a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks was launched. Two planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In the aftermath of the attacks an economic crisis hit the nation. As a result, I lost my job along with many others. Fast forward to almost 20 years later, and today due to a worldwide pandemic, I am also without work. Watching the latest news this morning, I felt like an immigrant all over again.
In hindsight, migrating from Germany to the United States of America felt a bit like moving into a new home. While switching countries is a far cry from switching domiciles, there are some similarities. Like it or not, after having lived long enough in one place, operational blindness gradually settles in. It means we run our place the way we always do and overlook the same things due to our lack of attention. This is why immigrants have 20/20 vision when they come into our country while the vision of longstanding citizens is somewhat impaired. Immigrants usually do not question or criticize their host country because they are the ones seeking shelter under a new tree.
If I compared our country to a garden, I would say that the state of affairs are close to the backyard conditions we’ve seen when we moved into our recent home, which is to say – our country runs on minimal maintenance. Over time, care taking gardeners can turn a wasteland into an oasis. I believe the same is true with running a country. How is our approach? Minimal maintenance or do we exhibit care taking efforts? Do the strong and mature trees in our country provide shade? Do their relief efforts encourage growth? Besides the wealthy, how does life look like for a person with medium income? What about people with reduced income? What about people with no income? How much shade is there, how much shelter is provided?
The psalmist says (Psalm 91:1): “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Sheltered people find rest. Unsheltered people have no rest. Anxieties, violence and eruptions are the result. These are the symptoms assailing our country, which are to be taken seriously. I believe the Lord will empower us to deal with those symptoms if we let Him. He is a Master Gardener and generations of believers have found shelter under His mighty wings. I am certain the Lord wants us to follow His example and provide shelter to the people in need. We lovingly take care of our country as He takes care of us, and He will bless us abundantly, like never before.