There is an inherent beauty in green spaces, and they almost immediately make us slow down to notice colors, patterns, and sounds in the natural world. Places dedicated to plants are important to us and multiple studies show that literally stopping to smell the roses is more than just a popular saying. Author and pastor Murray Andrew Pura expands those benefits to include spirituality in this book. Rooted was originally published in 2010, and it’s well worth the effort to locate a copy. The book focuses on deepening our Christian growth through ‘visiting’ five gardens specifically mentioned in the Bible that are central to our understanding of God and our relationship to Him.
It begins with an introduction written by Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message, and Pura’s own explanation of the importance of gardens to the Christian faith. He writes:
The Bible has its own garden path. It runs from Genesis to Revelation. In fact, some of the most important events in the Christian faith take place in biblical gardens, events around which Christianity has established its doctrines as firmly as rocks in the sand.
Rooted then proceeds through its five sections, one for each garden that Pura writes about: Eden, En Gedi - a Biblical garden that still exists, Gethsemane, the Garden of the Tomb, and the second Eden. Pura traces connections between the gardens and within each individual garden by examining the situations and events that occurred in them. He uses personal stories to bring his points to life by briefly describing the green spaces that he’s lived near or cultivated, and also includes experiences from his life as a pastor - people he’s met and lessons he learned from them. This is not a simplistic or saccharine overview of the believer’s life. Pura tackles themes both troubling and common to the Christian life - such as the dark night of the soul and unanswered prayers - with realism and compassion. Rooted is not a ‘how-to’ book so much as a thoughtful exploration and affirmation of the Christian life and a commitment to spiritual growth, made all the more meaningful for the use of garden imagery.
Good enough to read twice, my own copy has many underlined portions because there are ideas to go back to and ponder. On the other hand, Rooted is engaging enough to simply be read and enjoyed. It’s divided into short chapters within the sections titled after the biblical gardens,and it’s ideal as a devotional or simply to pick up and read when there are a few moments to spare.
Spending a few minutes in a garden, especially a biblical one, can deepen our understanding of ourselves, our world, and our relationship with God. Growing and flourishing - that’s worth stopping to smell the roses, right?