“Too busy!  Too much to do and too little time to do it!  Gotta be a good multi-tasker to be successful!”  Round and round and round we go on the stress-filled “merry-go-round of success.”  I deal with it frequently in my work and my personal commitments.  It’s enough to drive a person mad!

Ever wonder if our so-called “superior human intelligence” is not a curse?  We seem to create more and more complex, sophisticated machines and technology that draw us into a frantic lifestyle. We lack the time to take care of ourselves, our relationships with each other and with God.  It’s had me wondering if the Mennonites and Amish are right to shun current trends and technological advances and stick to the simple, basic life-styles that sustain strong relationships with each other and a strong faith in God. Do they suffer from the stresses that we contend with?

At times I envy the simplicity of a bird’s life as it flies by.  How many high priorities and how much multi-tasking do they have to contend with?  Their lives appear relatively simple, compared to ours; as they strive to meet life’s basic needs: finding food, water, mates, nesting areas and avoiding predators.  Why do we fill our lives with so many things?  Don’t we know frequent stress is not good for us?  How do we deal effectively with all this stress and anxiety before it hurts us?

Oftentimes, after work I visit the garden behind the home I share with my wife.  The vegetables and flowers need regular care and I enjoy tending them and watching them grow – single-minded simplicity.  The simplicity and single-mindedness of gardening is a relaxing and creative departure from the frantic, multi-tasking of our professional worlds.  Planting the seed or seedling, watering and fertilizing it as needed, and protecting it against natural enemies is educational and enjoyable. Watching over the seedlings as they struggle to produce the desired fruit, vegetable, herb, or flower puts me in touch with the creativity, care and greatness of our God.  Then picking the fruits of our labors – the vegetable, flower or herb – and using them to nourish our bodies allows me to connect with and be a part of the amazing simplicity of life.

It’s difficult to connect with and care for living things without also connecting to God.  How can one not understand the love and care of God for us, as we care for the plants in our garden?  The plants become windows through which we see life as the gift from God it really is.  We see ourselves like the plants in that gift; not “mechanically made,” but wondrously grown.  Not blue-printed and constructed, but unfolding into a unique, never-before-experienced expression of God’s love.

I think this sense of awe explains why, after a good bout of gardening, I feel satisfied and healed of the stress and anxiety of earlier in the work-day.  So, when things get overwhelming, take the time to visit your garden and find comfort and peace in the creative simplicity that awaits you there. We needn’t travel outside of our backyards to experience this simplicity, if enough green space exists for a garden there.