Also by this author: Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making
Published by B&H Publishing on October 26, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Memoir
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There’s a strong biblical connection between people and trees. They both come from dirt. They’re both told to bear fruit. In fact, arboreal language is so often applied to humans that it’s easy to miss, whether we're talking about family trees, passing along our seed, cutting someone off like a branch, being rooted to a place, or bearing the fruit of the Spirit. It’s hard to deny that trees mean something, theologically speaking.
This book is in many ways a memoir, but it’s also an attempt to wake up the reader to the glory of God shining through his creation. One of his first commands to Adam and Eve was to “work and keep” the garden (Genesis 2:15). Award-winning author and songwriter Andrew Peterson, being as honest as possible, seeks to give glory to God by spreading out his roots and raising his branches, trusting that by reading his story, you’ll encounter yours.
Hopefully, you’ll see that the God of the Garden is and has always been present, working and keeping what he loves. Sometimes he plants, sometimes he prunes, but in his goodness he intends to reap a harvest of righteousness.
This book spoke to me deeply because of the author’s sensitivity, honesty, and raw reflections about life and faith. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, since it doesn’t have an obvious thesis like Adorning the Dark, the author’s previous adult nonfiction book, which focuses on creativity and calling. However, the sometimes meandering form of The God of the Garden fits its themes, as Andrew Peterson gives a sense of different milestones in his life, lessons learned, and the role that trees have played in his experiences and perception of life. Since I also deeply love trees, I connected with aspects of this book that someone else might just humor, but Peterson’s love of trees is a consistent theme throughout the story and a central aspect of his messages about creation.
I love Peterson’s writing style, which ranges from elegant prose to down-to-earth humor, and because I appreciate his music so much, I enjoyed learning more about the man behind some of the songs that I have sung innumerable times. The memoir elements of this book are pitch-perfect in their honesty, depth, and rawness, and Peterson conveys a sense of the brokenness and beauty in the world around him and in his own heart. I especially appreciated his honesty about a period of depression that he went through, and he fills in moving personal details behind songs that he has written. He also writes beautifully about his love for creation and concern for the environment in a way that reflects deep love for the world, God, and his neighbor, rather than any kind of political screed.
I would highly recommend The God of the Garden to fans of Andrew Peterson’s music or writing, and to readers who are not familiar with him but who would appreciate a deeply honest, sensitive, perceptive look at life, suffering, God’s love, the glory of the natural world, and our hope for the New Creation. This is a truly beautiful, insightful, unique book, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to read it. I will also enjoy Peterson’s music even more in the future, with a deeper understanding of his life story and God’s faithfulness to him.