It’s called a Grace Garden — inspired by one of my favorite writers, Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience. She writes a lovely description and tutorial here. Basically it’s a miniature Easter scene created out of dirt, plants, rocks, etc. It’s a great visual reminder of the promise of Easter.
Being a not-very-crafty person, I thought this project was something I could handle with the kids. It involved no sewing, gluing, or papier-mache. And while I am by no means a competent gardener, I do love getting dirt under my fingernails, so I was totally on board with this idea. So yesterday the kids and I scavenged an old pot we found in the garage and filled it with dirt, grass, and flowers we dug up from the yard. We used a small flowerpot turned on its side for the empty tomb and covered it with some dirt and clover. Ben tied two sticks together to form the cross, and Eliza carefully placed the rocks just so around the “pond” (a small bowl filled with water). We wrote the words “grace” and “love” on a couple of rocks.
That’s when some thistles started to pop up in the Grace Garden.
Immediately there was outrage over where to put the “grace” and “love” rocks. It escalated a little something like this:
“I want to put grace next to the pond!”
“But that’s where I want to put love! You can put grace by the tomb.”
“No! There’s not enough room! Move your love over there.”
“Oh yeah? Then grace can go in the grass.”
“Mom!!!! She won’t let me put my rock where I want!”
“Well, he’s being mean!”
Exasperated, I tried to point out the irony of their grace/love/Easter garden controversy, but by this point I was getting a headache and honestly wasn’t feeling so hot. Plus I really just wanted to get this thing finished so I could check it off my “make something meaningful with the kids” list. Stellar attitude on my part, I know.
After reclaiming some semblance of control and a brief discussion on the absurdity of this argument, we did manage to make room for both grace and love between the tomb and the pond.
I thought about this fighting over the placement of grace and love. Something in my heart twitched.
I want grace and love where I decide. I want it for me. And sometimes I’m lousy at giving it back.
Bono’s words ring in my ears: “Would you deny from others what you demand from yourself?” (from Crumbs From Your Table by U2)
I want grace there.
I want grace when I don’t feel well and I’m too tired to make dinner. I want grace when I put my foot in my mouth. I want grace when I forget to call my friends back. I want grace when I raise my voice at my children. I want grace when I have $30 in library fines.
But I have a hard time giving grace to you, friend, don’t I?
I want love here. I don’t want love there.
I want to be loved and I want to love others in return….but sometimes Love interrupts my schedule. It means putting something off that I want to do in order to spend time with someone who needs to talk, to pray, or to be driven to the grocery store. I want to be loved when I’m in a good mood as well as when I feel like a failure.
Sometimes it’s hard for some of us to receive love, and therefore harder to give it away freely. Pride has many disguises, and I’ve learned how to wear many of its masks to cover up this ugly monster. But underneath it’s still the same. Love costs us something. To feed Love is to starve Pride.
Which is exactly what happened on Good Friday.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Father, have mercy on me.
Friends, as I receive grace and love from my heavenly Father, so will I try to let it flow out to you. Please forgive me for the times when I allow pride to cut off its flow.