A garden, by definition, is either a cultivated plot of ground or a gathering place such as a park which is generally adorned with plants and trees. I guess I have never considered the definition until quite recently. We had our Stake Conference this weekend, and one of the speakers mentioned two specific gardens found in the scriptures and discussed the symbolic differences between them.
The Garden of Eden, as mentioned in Geneses, is outlined as a paradise. We see paintings of fruit and vegetation, peace and waterfalls, a beautiful place where everything is tranquil. I guess it represents a kind of perfection.
The Garden of Gethsemane, as portrayed by each of the gospels, does not have the same appeal. Paintings often depict a drab setting with perhaps a few barren-looking trees, a hard rock or boulder, uncultivated dirt - it appears to be the opposite of the Garden of Eden. There is no tranquility. It represents hardships. It represents trials. There is sadness in Gethsemane and it takes faith to endure just being there.
My youngest son seems to live in Eden for the most part. He allows discouraging thoughts to roll off his back. He tries to coax others to come into Eden by waving to them and showing them what the garden has to offer. Sometimes I have questioned whether he has been to Gethsemane. I know he's seen it. I don't know he's willing to leave his comfort zone to physically pull others out of Gethsemane. I could be wrong.
My middle son fluctuates between the two gardens. He seems happy and content with one, but then something will set him off and he will mope around in the other. And then there's my eldest who unfortunately has spent too many years in the Garden of Gethsemane and continues to delve deeper into the garden instead of trying to get out.
Often his way of thinking (or lack thereof) remind me of John Steinbeck's character "Lennie Small" from Of Mice and Men. Lennie is sweet for the most part, is seen as uneducated and slow-minded. He doesn't mean to be harmful to anyone, but sometimes he gets frustrated and defensive when he is unable to communicate his thoughts to others. I don't think that Biff is quite that far gone, but he tends to forget things he once believed.
Often our conversations are (and have been) like beating our heads against a brick wall. I do believe that he would become bored with Eden in a matter of time, but I don't enjoy watching him struggling in Gethsemane, and I don't know how to help him. Nor do I know how to comfort his mother-in-law who has visited Gethsemane more times than I have.
I understand the need for trials. I understand the need for peace. I'd like to see all of my children find their common ground between the two gardens. I'd like that for everyone.