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Tuesday, August 19, A.D. 2014
Gardens Cultivate the Soul

I would first like to wish my fellow Orthodox a blessed feast of the Transfiguration!

Yesterday, I received the Touchstone newsletter, and one article immediately caught my eye: “Food for Thought: Rachel Lu on Growing Vegetables as a Primer in Moral Philosophy.” The newsletter offered this delicious morsel:

Gardening, as I discovered, is a wonderful primer in moral philosophy. It is a clear, tangible, and literally delicious way of experiencing the progression of created beings through their natural lifecycle. A well-tended garden offers resounding, joyful affirmation of the sturdy Aristotelian principle that optimal conditions enable living things to flourish. No one is a moral relativist when fertilizing his tomatoes.

I highly recommend it. I acknowledge that I am probably more enthusiastic about gardening and moral philosophy than the average person, but the article is still worth your time. It is full of insight, as in the following penultimate paragraph:

As a rule, most zealous food moralists tend to be politically liberal unbelievers, and this is not surprising. I myself, as a mother and a Catholic Aristotelian, cherish my garden as a medium through which my children and I can enjoy life and beauty together, even before they are capable of putting our shared experience into words. For unbelievers, however, gardens may provide something much more essential: reassurance that objective goodness and thriving are possible. Those same solid Aristotelian principles that were dramatically expelled out the front door can now be re-admitted through the back gate, in the innocent guise of peppers and summer squash. For such people, gardens really may be a lifeline to a moral universe that they had dismissed as the stuff of legend and fairy tale.

Kαλῶς εἶπας!

Lu’s article is rather appropriate for this day; we celebrate the manifestation of the savior’s glory on Mount Tabor by having the fruits of the harvest blessed.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, August 19, Anno Domini 2014
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