I have a garden. It is not the Garden of Eden, although a famous French novelist, Honoré de Balzac, described the town in which I live most of the year, and, more importantly, in which he lived for a while, as his “terrestrial paradise”. My garden is, in fact, a small, French backyard, set in a vast park – formerly the domain of a château – complemented, of course, by the indispensable Australian BBQ. I love its serenity and silence, broken only by birdsong.
Gardens, especially at dawn and at twilight, in total, absolute silence, promote reflection. In late June, before I flew South (like the geese later in the year) to enjoy four months here “On Zeee Beeech”, I spent an evening in my garden until 9:30 p.m., wondering about the origin, if not the purpose, of all this beauty. As the Sun sets behind the trees at the bottom of my garden, God becomes almost believable. Nature, evolution, could have settled for less, and been content with a minimum of variety and color. But, it, they, added a divine touch : the lavish splendor of countless species of flowers.
Roses, begonias, jasmin, celosia, geraniums, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, apple and cherry blossom, forsythia, tulips, dahlias make my modest garden a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Whodunit ? Did … God ?
I used to think so. Which is why I respect those who still do. I was lucky enough to “withdraw” from, to renounce dependence on, the opium of religious belief that has plagued, and still plagues, humankind. I cannot blame believers for continuing to believe. But I will keep trying to get them to see that the beauty and color of gardens are Nature’s, not God’s, way of assuring the survival of the species that make them up. Beauty is a gift of Evolution, not of God.