Wonder Gardens


Spring is trying to sprout, and we are loving the sunshine and longer days! My three younger children walk around with their eyes searching for treasures, their boots sloshing in mud, their fingers sticky with pine sap. The one year old is learning about prickly pine needles and pokey pinecones (he is not a fan). The five year old collects a pile of rocks, the eight year old collects chunks of bright green fuzzy moss: they both run to the garage to pilfer old cardboard boxes to fill with their treasures.

When I return from a walk to reach my 75K workweek steps, during which I was listening to an audiobook on authenticity in the Christian walk, the children want to go into the house with me. Tea and stories, they beg! I make no promises but agree it is a lovely scheme. I watch them grab small cardboard boxes, and they ask where they can store their treasures. Is there a shelf in the garage where we can make space for these boxes?

Suddenly I think about boxes of treasures in basements. Parents and grandparents who have lovely things boxed up and put on shelves. Stored away. Supposedly treasured, yet simply coffined.

I stop the children, and stoop down to meet their eyes. “Why would you find treasures, just to put them in a box and hide them on a shelf? Wouldn’t you rather beautify something with them?”

Quizzical looks spread across their faces. They don’t quite understand.

“Did you collect these things because you find them lovely or pretty or wonderful? Let’s not stuff your treasures away, let’s use them to beautify something. Let’s go plant a wonder garden!”

We found a little cove in a forest stand right by the driveway, and two children each claimed a small spot of earth. They unpacked their treasures, decorating their garden spot with tangible pieces of wonder.

Sparkly rocks encircle tree trunks like necklaces. Pieces of moss line up against a fallen branch like a lace collar.

They are catching on.

A pile of deer bones, an antler, a bucket of shells from last summer’s scouring of the beach… the children suddenly see their treasures with new eyes. Not just as things to hoard and collect, to quantify and pile up like a dragon. But rather as things to use and bless, to decorate and share. To take dominion over a spot in the forest by sprinkling gathered wonder.

We’ll see if this idea catches on. But for now, even the tiny seed of idea makes the possibility bubble in joy.

Now we can go in the house. Now that we have found a proper home for your treasures, let’s go sip tea and read stories.”

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