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  • Writer's pictureSt Giles Online

How does your garden grow?

Rev. Phillip Dawson reflects on the inspiration we can draw from nature and scientific discovery as we contemplate the Easter story.

“One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth,” wrote the poet Dorothy Gurney.The glorious floral displays in church on Easter Day remind us that our faith began in a garden, when Mary Magdalene recognised the risen Christ and became the first to share the Good News of our salvation. A courageous act which earned her the nickname “Apostle to the Apostles” in the early church.


Looking through powerful microscopes, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego discovered that brain cells appear to grow in a similar way to plants. Tendrils can be seen reaching out, seeking new connections. Research has suggested that the optimum time for such growth is the brief period between sleep and wakefulness. How apt that Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Jesus in a garden at dawn! Perhaps the most important new connection in the history of the world?Our Sunday gospel readings this month tell of the fear, wonder, joy and disbelief of the disciples as they embrace the truth of the resurrection. As we listen, we are encouraged to do the same. To embrace the reality of that new life. To grow in faith. Something which even the most powerful microscope cannot yet see.

In a few months GSK – the multinational biotechnology company – moves its head office into the Earnshaw Building to the north of the church - part of a growing “Life-Science” Quarter. The latest wave of change charted in the parish history book which is being launched next month, that contains stories of the early pioneers of public health and welfare reform including George Buchanan and Louisa Twining.


As we prepare to look back at the past glories of this fascinating place may we be inspired by the new opportunities it offers. Let us make St Giles into a flourishing garden - not an album of pressed flowers.

A place where all may be drawn nearer to God’s heart.

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