Darton, Longman, Todd
I picked this gorgeous little book to review because of the title. At the moment I am interested in exploring the nature of God and our response to God in non cognitive ways, and the perfumed title captured me.
Imagine my delight as I began to read and understand that this was a series of extended meditations written by an Armenian Orthodox theologian, who is also a passionate gardener.
Beware all passionate Australian gardeners; one jarring note is that this is a decidedly Northern hemisphere book.
Its focus on the nature of the seasons, particularly those in Virginia, meant I had to lay aside my fierce pride in native Australian bush in all its varied forms.
Doing this however, allowed me to enter Guroian’s verdant world, and it was worth it.
Dr Guroian provides us with a gift of his meditative reflections in a seasonal way. He explains that he was going to publish the material in chronological order, but decided that he would instead organise his material based on the natural and religious seasons.
“After all” he writes, “no matter how many clocks and calendars we own and consult, we do not experience life in a strictly linear way.”
The final meditation is a magnificent piece of writing. Incorporating the experience of his mother’s illness, the winter season between Christmas and Easter and a powerful Orthodox theology, Guroian takes us into the Resurrection Garden and liberates the glory of earth and flesh. As he writes to us/Mother/God he takes us through the cycles of death and life.
“And on Sunday, the first day of the New Creation, Jesus sprang up from the tomb, a vine laden with the fruit of the Resurrection. Yes, and Mary Magdalene found Jesus in the garden, thinking he was the gardener. And she was right, although she mistook him for another.”
The Orthodox theology adds depth and character to the work. The protestant reader will benefit from exposure to a faith that embraces tradition and mystery.
Using excepts from the rich tradition of Christian writing, mysticism and poetry, the book leads the reader through the deeply spiritual life of this theologian.
I was challenged by the theology, delighted by the prose, and inspired by the gentle passion contained in the book.
All gardeners will love this book; all those who long to be gardeners but don’t ever do it (like me) will also love this book.
If you are looking for meditative material that brings you prose and poetry from the loam, The Fragrance of God is the book for you.
Reviewed by Heather DenHouting a candidate for the Ministry of Deacon, studying at Trinity Theological College