Last Wednesday it was in the 70’s around here and so I threw on my striped overalls, grabbed a shovel, rake and bucket and headed to my garden.

I’m new to gardening and only garden because the home we bought a few years ago has this enormous perennial garden in the backyard–it contains three ornamental trees, a walking path and a pond. It has been and continues to be a learning experience…I’m trying to be polite here…

The pond is a problem pond. Its water is murky and stinks. It harbors algae, slime and nettle. Even the birds don’t find it a suitable hangout.

How to fix? I got a cute spitting frog on a lily pad fountain and applied algae treatment . That helped keep the algae and slime down. I’ve used weed killer on the nettle and pulled it up without mercy–no more prickly rashes riddling me for days. (I have a friend who says nettle tastes good cooked–I hope I never find out). Each spring I skim the surface and rake the bottom to get out last year’s fall leaves and sticks, that helps for a lovely surface.

This spring I realized that all of this profound effort on my pond was great but it wasn’t cutting it. The water was still murky and there was a stench in the area…

So, to I went and sleuthed out an article on pond maintenance. Oh boy, the only thing I hadn’t done was drain it and clean it. Ever scream at God? I know this is an incredibly weak reason to scream at God but I did. I must have looked like a spoiled brat who was just told to clean her room–I hope the neighbors didn’t hear anything…wow! didn’t think about that until just now…

Off to the pond I went Wednesday with my meager tools in hand. I bailed and bailed…then I got down to the bottom. Now I know what sludge is, up close and friendly like. Two inches on the bottom. I found the source of the garden stench, boy did I ever…manure smells sweeter. What to do? “Heave Ho!” and don’t look back, try to close off the olfactories, fill buckets with a vegeance and haul away quickly.

Is there an analogy to life here? Is there an unlocated stench that you sense but cannot figure out? Do others keep away, do they ‘smell’ it? Can you smell anything sweet or lovely in your life? I’m sure it is there, but can you smell it or is it covered over by something buried, that cannot be seen?

We can tidy up our ‘ponds’ and make them look good, but if they stink, they do little good–no one wants to visit, let alone hang out, no living animal would call it home sweet home. My garden has never smelled right–I’ve got aromatic flowers galore but the sludge held sway and polluted the area.

God knows how to clean out our sour pond and sweeten us up. Really holy people are said to smell like flowers and others report that there is an odor of sanctity they experience from time to time in prayer…seemingly the smells are akin to roses or violets.

Does God smell? Is there an odor to heaven? Could we know it here on earth? Does a flower garden echo it? I don’t know…but I do know that we can stink to high heaven and that it probably has to do with what lurks at the bottom, down down deep. Maybe all we need to do is invite the great Gardener to come (with nose plugs) and make a day of it…


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