Award-winning singer-songwriter and author Andrew Peterson has a passion for changing lives — one song, one book, one blog post at a time.
And now, his much-anticipated second adult trade, nonfiction book, “The God of the Garden,” is out — a memoir about his encounters with God in creation.
Pandemic-related restrictions grounded Peterson from his busy touring schedule in 2020. At the beginning of the lockdown he recalled reading how one of the biggest Google searches was, “Why are the birds so loud?” Like many, slowing down helped Peterson realize that birds had always been singing but he had been too busy to notice.
‘The richest time’
“I stopped moving for a solid year and was home with my wife and my family; really able for the first time in my adult life to see the seasons come and go,” Peterson said. “And it was just the richest time. It was the perfect time to slow down and keep track of the ways the Lord was speaking to me through those seasons.”
Written during the lockdown from his home in Nashville, “The God of the Garden” presents an intimate portrait of Peterson’s encounters with the creator God — the One working for and keeping His beloved creation, planting and pruning to reap a harvest of righteousness.
“Part of the reason I wrote the book was to kind of get to the bottom of the way He speaks through His creation,” Peterson reflected. “I was taking the time to pay attention to my own story, remembering certain key moments in my life where I really was overwhelmed with a sense of God’s presence and a sense of who He is. And those moments tended to happen either in the company of a specific tree or in a specific woodland or forest.”
The Bible is full of examples of God “showing up” where there are trees, Peterson noted, and they play a big role in the story He’s telling with all of creation. The story became a kind of experiment for the author, looking back at the moments when he felt God’s presence most acutely and realizing they occurred most often when he was surrounded by trees.
The book follows Peterson’s 2019 memoir, “Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling and the Mystery of Making,” which received several notable awards from The Gospel Coalition and Christianity Today. Begun as a writing discipline, “Adorning the Dark” soon developed into a journal focused on the creation process, written to help songwriters, poets, pastors and even painters understand how the Christian’s calling intersects with the “great mystery of creativity.”
Peterson’s award-winning, four-book, youth fantasy adventure series, “The Wingfeather Saga,” was adapted into a short film, and production is underway on the first season of an animated series set to release in 2022.
Peterson founded The Rabbit Room ministry in 2008 to help foster the Christian arts creative community — it hosts concerts, symposiums and yearly conferences. To date, Rabbit Room Press has published more than 30 books.
“We have seen so much, like encouraging communities who are now making their own stuff, writing their own books, putting out music,” Peterson said. “One of the big things that I got from this season of stillness is that we can’t always control the outcome. We’re not in charge of the outcome; we’re in charge of being obedient to tilling the field. We’re [going to do] the work that is put in front of us and trust that the Lord is going to nourish these communities.”
Making his own way
Peterson forged his own path as a singer-songwriter, refusing to compromise his message by chasing album sales and radio singles. His songs are part of an ongoing conversation filled with real human experiences like sorrow, joy and integrity, he said.
“Most of my songs get their start in the dailiness of things. And Jesus is just kind of woven into that.”
This fall Peterson will release the album, “Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ,” to mark the 20th anniversary of the annual “Behold the Lamb of God” tour.
Peterson and his wife Jamie have been married for 24 years and have three children: Aedan, Asher and Skye.
“The God of the Garden,” published by B&H Publishing, is now out and is available wherever books are sold. For more information, visit bhpublishing.com.