Advertise with us

Home Op-Ed God plants seeds of life in the gardens of our souls

God plants seeds of life in the gardens of our souls

E-mail Print
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

VanSpall writes, 'that which God builds forever renews itself in loveliness'
by Julie VanSpall

Photo Caption: The Easter season brings the budding of spring blossoms. Julia VanSpall writes, “What humans have built has fleeting beauty, but what God builds forever renews itself in loveliness.” (


On a recent trip to Mexico, my mother-in-law and I observed and commented on the many beautiful plants. We frequently were also struck by the fact that regardless of whether buildings were large or small, ornate or run-down, they were adorned in greenery and flowers virtually everywhere we went.


As I noticed more and more contrasting displays of old, or even unfinished, construction paired with the striking colours of nature, one thought kept coming to mind: what humans have built has fleeting beauty, but what God builds forever renews itself in loveliness.

The people who lived in those houses may not have been able to afford to fix up or finish building their homes, but they knew that plants could add beauty.

I often consider plants bonus items. Furniture and paint get purchased first, and then I buy a few plants, but they are never my priority. I see them as extras – beautiful extras – that I can live without, so I put them to the side.

Many of the houses we saw were very run down, in need of paint and repair, but the planters and rooftop gardens these houses boasted were obvious priorities to their inhabitants. Bright fuchsias and oranges with various shades of green drew our eyes away from crumbling stucco and rusted railings. These homes were not fancy in their own right, but with the gifts of God’s nature, they became quite appealing.

We are like those houses – works in progress, under construction, in need of repair. We may not be able to afford the fanciest clothes or cosmetic products, but God makes us beautiful. He made our bodies, it’s true, but he puts our souls first.

During Lent, we were called to focus on our souls. We fasted and refrained from excess in order to remind ourselves that our bodies should not be of primary focus. Of course, our bodies are gifts from God, so we still need to receive nourishment and to exercise. We still need to take pride in ourselves, to clean and groom, and to put our best foot forward; however, particularly during Lent, we are reminded to put the needs of our souls first.

At Easter, we celebrate the risen Lord. Christ lived through the ugliest and most evil of tortures, being beaten and ridiculed for our sake. His bloodied, bruised and lifeless body was placed in burial cloths in a stone-sealed tomb. His loved ones and accusers alike saw destruction face to face.

Then, on the third day, a man they did not initially recognize came forth from that very tomb. He was clothed in a light and beauty their eyes had not seen before. In time, many realized this was truly the heart, the spirit and even the resurrected body of the one who had been crucified.

The risen Lord embodies a beauty that can only come from the Father. He reminds us to this day that this true beauty cannot be fully seen with our eyes, but must be recognized in our hearts.

Humans can destroy each other, through harsh words, judgment, and bodily abuse. Age, disease, and injury can cause our bodies to fail, yet Easter reminds us God will never leave us. Even when we feel as though we are falling apart, our beauty – his beauty – lies within.

Lipstick may enhance lips and braces may straighten teeth, but only God can create a genuinely gorgeous smile. Designers may market fancy clothes, but only God can clothe us with generosity of spirit and give us the ability to wrap another person in a loving embrace.

Humans can erect buildings, humans can focus on superficial appearances, but only God can grow flowers and provide true beauty.

Within each of us, he has planted seeds of life and goodness, in hopes that we accept the living water and allow those seeds to bloom. In our personal care – and in our care for each other – we need to prioritize the gardens of our souls.

In Easter joy, we recall that bodies are temporary, while souls are eternal. That which the eye can see will eventually fade; that which God builds forever renews itself in loveliness.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 12:00  

Dear reader,

Due to an unmanageable amount of spam and abusive messages, we are no longer able to offer the comment function on our website. We respect the principle of public debate and remain committed to it. Please send us a note at and visit us in the near future when we have finished building our new website — at which point the comment function will be restored.

Kind regards,

The B.C. Catholic






Salt and Light Webcast
  Courtesy of Salt & Light Television

Click image to watch Video
Medieval Gem - UBC acquires papal bull

Click image to watch Video
Paul Goo's Diaconate Ordination

Click image to watch Video
Thank You John Paul II



4885 Saint John Paul II Way Vancouver BC V5Z 0G3   Phone: 604 683 0281 Fax: 604 683 8117
© The B.C. Catholic

Informing Catholics in Canada since 1931