Thursday, September 28, 2006

Conservatory Garden

In the northeast corner of Central Park is the Conservatory Garden, a garden whose formality is somewhat striking amid the rambling, ambling landscape of the rest of the Park. At the center of the garden is a large lawn; I stopped to admire its unblemished green grass, mowed in a cross-hatch pattern and protected on all sides by a thick hedge.

There were plenty of flowers, plants, trees, and fountains to admire in the garden, but the lawn held my attention for awhile. I thought it was maybe regrettable that the hedges made the lawn so closed off, and clearly meant to be "kept off" by any visitors to the garden. "What a shame," I thought, "Because a lawn that pretty deserves to be sat on, laid on, played on, blankets, frisbees, bare feet, all of it."

And I thought, too, "Such a pity that there is this plot of land in the middle of over-crowded NYC, and nothing is being done with it." I was on the verge of declaring the "un-used" lawn to be wasted, frivolous space.

But then God caught my thoughts and flipped them a bit. Are there areas of my life that are meant to be like this lawn? Kept beautiful and undefiled, though the rest of the world might consider it to be a waste?

We talk of sins of commission and omission; simply: a sin of commission is when you do something you shouldn't, and a sin of omission is when you don't do something you should. Are there not also blessings (or shall we say "mitzvahs") of omission as well? A time or situation where the God-glorifying thing to do is nothing at all? (A Sabbath comes to mind, for example.)

There are a great many worthwhile and good things that could be done with the space the empty lawn claims - it could be used for recreation for the hurried and harried, or a safe playground for underprivileged youth, or sold to developers to raise money for a local charity. The space could technically be put to good work for the care of humanity. But perhaps there is also a mitzvah in not doing any of the above, in omitting to do and instead just leaving it green and beautiful and protected on all sides.

I don't have the theology and life-application on this all worked out. I just saw a lawn today, and it made me think about God.

1 comment:

Girl said...

Oh, but the lawn CAN be used...just with restrictions:

Wedding parties may use the lawn in the Central Garden for 30 minutes only, and are limited to the couple, parents, and attendants totaling no more than 25 people.