Made for the Garden–Thoughts on the Tiny Life

made for the gardenI enjoy watching shows and reading articles about tiny homes. For someone to glamorize houses smaller than mine makes me feel good. I’m not living in a small, cramped space–I’m thinking about the environment. Being grateful for what I have. Showing contentment. Lots of ways to spin our cheap little house and make us look noble and not crowded.

But you know what? I think I was made for a garden. Big one. Mountains and oceans and forests. Not a tiny home.

I read an article recently that said the tiny home movement is failing because people can’t do it. It’s true we can live in small spaces. It’s physically possible. We need a fraction of what we own. But people fail at it. We weren’t made for that. We long for the garden.

I’ve mentioned my love for the book of Genesis. The fantasy writer in me lets my imagination soar as I imagine the first people. You know what’s missing from the story, though? When God put Adam and Eve in the garden, we never once hear about their house.

In my imagined garden world, there is no house. This is the world before rain. I imagine a perfect climate, where sleeping beneath the stars is possible. There were no wild animals hoping to eat Adam and Eve. No marauders sneaking through the darkness. No rain. Why live indoors?  Given a huge, safe, living garden, why would anyone even consider enclosing a space and hiding there?

They ate from the garden, so maybe they didn’t even cook. Imagine living outside, tending a garden, and eating straight from it whenever you got hungry. Your ceiling was as high as the clouds. You had space to walk and run and twirl without hitting a wall or knocking over a vase or a TV.

I don’t know what edged this garden. Could they see mountains in the distance? Since there was no rain, streams must have run through it. Maybe one side was edged with a river. I imagine they could see for miles, and maybe they could walk for miles. They had space.

There is tendency in our world for space to equal money. Those with money live in big houses. Those without live in small houses. Even in crowded countries where most people expect to live in tiny apartments, the wealthy find ways to get space. So we imagine people who want space are greedy, unable to be content with a reasonable amount of room.

Tiny home living is (was?) a movement that says living small can be a choice that has nothing to do with wealth. But then tiny home owners struggle to stay. Maybe our love of space isn’t about wealth. Maybe it isn’t about greed. Maybe it has to do with our beginnings.

God built a huge world, and he put two people in it. He put them in a garden. He raised the sky so high they couldn’t imagine touching the top. He surrounded them with mountains wreathed in mists and oceans with unknowable depths. He told them to explore it, care for it, and subdue it.

Soon after we married, my husband and I moved, with two small children, to a large, seventy year-old home with high ceilings and big rooms. It was in a bad part of town, and it was a money pit, but I loved that house. We had a couple rooms we never even furnished. Instead, the kids would race around in those rooms. My husband worked out in there. I would simply stand in the largest empty room and breathe.

It wasn’t expensive, although keeping it standing was. We didn’t stay long, forced to move for a job, but I am forever ruined. I miss high ceilings and empty spaces. I wasn’t made to live in a cave. That came later, when the world became dangerous and there were reasons to hide.

No, we were made for the garden. If someone offered me a larger house, I would take it. I know I want land–even if I live in a tiny house, I want to see out, gaze across empty, open distances. It’s where God started us, in a big world, in a garden. And that is my longing and always will be. Space. Life. Sky too high to touch. Waters too deep to plumb. Tiny living is fine. But for me, I’ll take space any day.

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