September 17, 2011

The Gardener’s Song

Posted in Eastertide, Obedience, Original Sin at 5:53 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Eve, in the perfect garden, craved to know
Some tender morsel that might make her god.
Yet, knowing, found the path of pain and woe.
Thus plunged in bitterness of night she trod.

Another to a garden brought sweet herbs
Gently to tend the lifeless Lamb of God
Who had from her removed all that disturbs,
Had borne for her the cruel, chastening rod.

Seeking and finding not, she wept aloud,
Though holy angels she did hear and see.
She turned from them in tearful cloud
And asked the Gardener where her Lord might be.

The Maker of all gardens then replied
With the same question that the angels posed:
“Woman, why weepest thou?” And so she sighed
And asked if He the Body had disposed.

One word—her name—came from the Lord;
Bright tears of joy eclipsed her night of loss,
For this blest morn had hope restored,
And empty tomb o’ershadowed rugged cross.

Her glad response, “Rabboni,” was replete
With Eve’s desire to know the ways of truth.
But Mary humbly learned at Jesus’ feet.
Eve’s crop was death, while Mary bore good fruit.

Copyright © 2011 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)


Another poetic comparison between an Old Testament woman and a New Testament woman, this poem looks at Eve and Mary Magdalene and compares two moments of grace in gardens. The first verse sets the stage in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), with the temptation of Eve, who got what she asked for (her eyes were opened to new knowledge- Genesis 3:5) and found out it was not what she wanted. All the knowledge in the world cannot make us wise, nor can it save us from our own dark desires. But thanks be to God that He provides Salvation.,

The second verse flashes forward to the scene at the Lord’s tomb, where the women had gathered with aromatic herbs to dress the body of our Lord. The reference to him as the Lamb of God mentioned shortly after the “sweet herbs” looks back at the Passover Lamb and bitter herbs (Exodus 12:8). (I have another poem that talks about Jesus’ death and resurrection banning forever the bitter herbs.) The next line talks about other bitternes he had banned from Mary’s life in the “evil spirits and infirmities” (Luke 8:2) that He had driven away.

The next verse begins in John 20:11 with Mary’s sorrow that her Lord was missing, and even though she now saw angels instead of demons (think of that!), she could not process the information that finding an empty tomb was a good thing, not a bad one. As she turned, away from the question, “Woman, why are you weeping?” she heard it again, this time from someone she assumed was the gardener. He was a sort of Gardener, actually.

But for me the heart of the poem was that when she realized it was our Lord, her sorrow instantly turned to joy, and she called him “Teacher.” Not Lord or Savior or King or Friend or Son of God or Son of Man or even His name, but Teacher.

So what?

Go back to the fact that she was twice in this passage called “woman.” And in her culture, learning was not women’s work (remember Mary and Martha). But Jesus was willing to teach women. He saw them as having not only the capacity to learn of Him but the responsibility to do so. This woman who had formerly been possessed by seven demons was now possessed by a deep hunger for knowledge, but not in the sinful way that Eve had done. Eve selfishly hungered for personal power so that she wouldn’t need God. Mary hungered for knowledge of Jesus Christ, to lose herself in Him so that she could be found by Him and in Him, to be hid with Christ in God.


On December 23, 2008, I completed the final paper required for the M.A.R. degree. I wrote the poem “The Gardener’s Song” as an expression of my gratitude for the CTH professors who faithfully taught me the Word of God.

1 Comment »

  1. […] final references I want to highlight are Mary’s mistaking Jesus for a gardener (an event I’ve written about before), which calls the Garden of Eden into remembrance, and the reference to John 15, in which our Lord […]

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