Balfour Brickner,
Finding God in the Garden:
Backyard Reflections on Life, Love & Compost

(Little, Brown & Co., 2002)

Rabbi Balfour Brickner draws on his experience as an avid gardener to contemplate issues of life and faith. From the fall from the Garden of Eden to learning to let go, Brickner finds an aspect of gardening to illustrate his points. He ties in his knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and related studies, as well as his ministry as a rabbi, to anchor his reflections intellectually.

Thus, a peony is a lesson in patience, a beautiful rhododendron provides insight into prayer and a teak garden bench stands at the heart of a chapter about the importance of rest. Brickner shares his own joys and deep sorrows with the reader in a personal, amiable and carefully thought-out way.

Brickner has an infectious sense of humor -- how could anyone resist a chapter title such as "Coneflowers and Sex"? He is also very candid in the expression of his beliefs, rooted in Reform Judaism, and some of that candor left me open-mouthed with surprise yet very appreciative of his point; Brickner is a skilled and lively writer. His examples from Judaism are illustrative, not proselytizing, and readers of any faith will be able to relate to them.

Finding God in the Garden is a perfect read for anyone interested in exploring issues of faith in an accessible context and without a lot of dogma.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 11 January 2003

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