We’ve had a bizarre warm winter in Tennessee, until the last few days, when January finally arrived.   The blooming flowers and budding trees are now in frozen shock.  Observing these changes and reading Dixon’s fine post on sweet potatoes over at “so indie it’s embarrassing” (see the blogroll) have set me thinking about the earth.

The Austrian spiritual teacher Rudolf Steiner (best known for inspiring biodynamic agriculture and Waldorf education) held that Christ radically joined himself to the earth, through the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.  As the dead Christ was placed in the planet’s stone womb, new life stirred in all things.  No matter what one makes of Steiner’s thoughts, Paul pictures all creation groaning and travailing in pain as the Spirit brings a new world into being (Romans 8).  The earth itself shares in the dying and rising of Christ.

In one of his agricultural lectures, Steiner refers to farmers as priests, for they tend the earth, which is now, in a mysterious but deeply real sense, incorporated into the body of Christ.   What would our farming and gardening look like, if we really regarded the planet in this way?  Not to mention ecological responsibility…..

Here is an icon painted by my friend Hannah Shapero (Electron Blue on the blogroll) depicting the Virgin in the colors of earth as seen from space, holding in her lap the Child, whose robes sparkle with the patterns of the stars:


6 Responses to “Gardening”

  1. Mark Hoemmen Says:

    That’s a really cool icon — Jesus really looks like a young Jewish boy. I can’t stop noticing, however, that what he’s holding in his hand looks a lot like an iPod 😉

  2. John Says:

    Yes, I think it is supposed to be some sort of computer! 🙂 We have a print of this icon in our bonus room, and the website image does not really do it justice. Hannah does beautiful work.

  3. Barb Burstyn Says:


    love your tag line ‘the wholly hidden spirit in the physical… perfect.
    You might like to know about our documentary, ‘How to Save the World,’ about the Biodynamic revolution sweeping India – how the work of Steiner has grown.


    Barb Burstyn

  4. Gordon Says:

    That is beautiful. Where can I buy a lithograph of this?


  5. John Says:

    Gordon, You can find ordering info on Hannah’s website -

    Barb, I will definitely check that out! We have a number of folks working with biodynamic agriculture around Nashville.

  6. John Beck Says:

    Beautiful icon after a really beautiful, thoughtful post. I’ll try to find my way back to your blog.

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