Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hidden Art: Chapter Six

"Studying the intellectual and philosophical answers to the questions of life and the Bible is more meaningful when undertaken in a situation involving such activities as digging, planting, weeding, picking, caring for chickens, sawing wood, making shelves and furniture, cooking, sewing, painting walls, and so on."   ~ p. 93
What did she just say?
Basically this:  doing "hidden art" stuff helps you understand spiritual truths.

Schaeffer notes repeatedly that gardening (this chapter's emphasis) is satisfying and fulfilling and thrilling and therapeutic.  Those are all nice. She even says it's healing. (86)

But at the end of the chapter she makes a good argument that working in the soil with plants, bugs, seeds, and weeds broadens our understanding of spiritual truths. God uses many gardening/farming metaphors in Scripture to help us understand deep truths -- like how we must die to be resurrected, as a seed does. Or how sin encroaches in the soul and chokes out the spiritual life, like a weed or vine. I believe farmers have a better natural understanding of life and death, and the ramifications of both, better than we regular folks.
My brother and sister-in-law have a farm. They grows lots of blueberries, among other things.
They have many animals that depend on them, and on whom they depend.
This photo is only their garden plot. Serious gardeners they are! They keep beef cattle, a milk cow, and have about 3000 blueberry bushes, plus raspberries, asparagus, and other crops. Add chickens and sheep to that.

They live very closely with life and death, day in, day out, year in, year out. And I've said before that their farm is, to me, the most lovely place on earth. It's ART. For them it's hard work. To my eyes, it's art. They take huge risks, life on the knife-edge of ruin, trust in little plants and seeds ... to produce this complicated ART, as Schaeffer calls it.

We must always remember that God placed humans initially in a garden, a "paradise" (the king's garden, literally). We are created, Schaeffer says, to interact with the soil, the plants, the animals, to find our place in the garden.  On a farm, the beauty of Eden, and the sadness of the fall into death, are juxtaposed so closely. People who live in big cities with concrete, plastic and metal tend to divorce their lives from both Eden, and daily death.

Seeing Eden each morning, and seeing death each day -- these things remind us of our place, our humanity, and who God is. A farm is the best place for this.

(Read more bloggers' views of this chapter of Schaeffer's book at Ordo Amoris.)


  1. One of the reasons why I avoid gardening is because it is so visceral! Too many gut-wrenching analogies for me! I'm of the tea-drinking observer variety of garden-dwellers! Observing, mind you, nothing more than boys tearing up lawns!

  2. I'm of the "hard work" attitude; it takes an amazing amount of work to keep a farm going. I don't use the word "awesome" but the amount of work to keep a farm/garden going is, indeed, awesome...awe inspiring.

  3. I so agree that farm/ranch life helps one learn truths from scripture in a very hands-on way. It seems that the more I am outside working, the more He teaches me.

  4. Such a good many spiritual truths can be seen in the garden.

    And your brother and sister-in-law's garden is indeed! Thank you for sharing it.

  5. I truly believe that we can learn more through gardening than almost any other endeavor. So many truths built into the entire process.

    Your brother's farm is amazing.

  6. The very first home was a garden, and the inhabitants tended it. And then after the fall, they were charged to work the land. There are definitely life lessons there! You've captured the message of this chapter very nicely. Thank you!

  7. I don't have a farm but my heart longs for connection to all that God has created... sometimes it's not as easy to find it under the concrete and through the power lines. But I do find it and I KNOW that the connection is a gift from God. A gift that brings us into spiritual truth... You said this so well. I am really enjoying reading your summations of one of my VERY favorite books!

    Blessings, Debbie

  8. What a beautiful farm and the love and sweat that have gone into it are obvious. I think farming is not for sissies. :)

  9. "...doing "hidden art" stuff helps you understand spiritual truths."

    oh boy. this thought may have just prompted another blog post from me. i have thought that very same thing, in fact, WHILE i was sitting pulling weeds. i have had serious spontaneous spiritual studies while sitting in the sun... (assembling that sentence was super satisfying!)



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