My Magical Garden

Fourteen years ago this month, my hubby and I packed up our kids and belongings and moved to our dream home. This home has features that appealed to all of us: formal dining room (me), an acre of land to run and play in (our kids), and a big garage and driveway (hubby).

Our new property also offered lots of potential for gardens. And planting I have done. Lovely lavender offers a gentle welcome by our entrances and around our gazebo. We have tomato and pepper plants available for a fresh addition to summer salads. There remain plenty of trees for shade and privacy. Two tiger lilies replanted from a work friend’s garden, became very fertile and multiplied along the front of our home. All our gardens have done exceptionally well.

All, except for one, that is.

One small section of the garden by our front porch absolutely refused to accept any of my efforts of planting or seeds. No matter how hard I tried, this little plot of soil yielded nothing.

Not one to give up easily, I made enquiries at garden centres, googled on-line, added new soil, put down some mulch, etc. etc. etc. All to no avail. This little garden spot simply refused to cooperate with my efforts.

Finally, five years ago, I gave up trying.

In order to keep this section from looking completely bare, I plopped a potted strawberry plant that was gifted to our family, on the soil.

At the end of that summer, the summer of 2010, when I was cleaning the gardens for the fall, I noticed the strawberry plants had climbed over the pot, and made their way down to the ground. Not only that, a couple of the little green shoots had gone ahead and somehow planted themselves into the soil. “How interesting”, I mused to myself, as I carefully snipped the planted shoots from the pot, and continued with my late summer gardening chores.

When the spring of 2011 dawned, I was delighted to discover those little strawberry shoots had survived the winter. “They actually appear quite healthy”, I told my husband. “Perhaps they like this tiny garden spot”. So I cultivated and weeded the surrounding soil, but added nothing. I decided that allowing this little garden to grow in it’s own way, seemed like the wisest course of action.

And to my delight, those small strawberry plants grew and spread, at times yielding a few sweet fruits.

As the years have passed, our little strawberry garden has grown well, with plants spreading to fill the entire plot of soil that I once struggled so intently with. All that remains necessary, is a bit of weeding, cultivating and watering.

I guess this little garden had it’s own agenda. It’s transformation has left me amazed.

How lovely.

This morning I had some alone time, and was able to pause and ponder on this garden. I wondered if there was a spiritual lesson in all of this?

I recall my own journey.

At one time, coincidentally pre-2010, I was a woman who took her religion very seriously. I attended my Christian church every single Sunday. Rain or shine, sick or healthy, even when I was so weary I could barely roll out of bed – Sunday mornings would find me in church.

I adhered to a very strict bible reading schedule, making sure to touch on both old and new testaments upon rising in the morning, as well as adding a sprinkle of an epistle during the day, and a dash of proverbs or psalms before bed.

Always having been a book-worm, my reading became limited to solely Christian works – how to be a better Christian, how to be more loving, how to be holy, how to be a biblical wife … Unfortunately, with a full time job, kids and a husband, there was no time left over to read for the simple joy of it.

I was filling my days, trying so hard to be the perfect Christian lady. In my understanding, all these activities I was doing were like seeds that I was planting in my heart and spirit, to yield a beautiful garden for God.

But in 2010, change happened and I was challenged with some situations that I had never even dreamed I would face.

I checked in on my little Christian garden that I had worked so hard on growing in my heart. After all my hard work, efforts and diligence, I was disappointed to find that this garden was barren. It was yielding nothing.

I threw my hands up and cried out to God: “Why?!”

And somewhere within the silence that followed , I perceived a subtle answer.

“Relax. You try so hard to know Me. But I am always with you. And you have all of eternity to discover Me. Breathe, and let everything unfold as it should.”

In the years since, I have done just that.

What a journey it has been! I have found new ways to know the Divine in a natural manner as I go about my day:

– Through sharing stories and giggles over a bottle of wine with a then new and now precious girlfriend;

– Through walking my sweet puppy along paths I had previously never given myself time to explore;

– Through enjoying a young adult book series, all light and fun, uplifting and easy to read;

– Through taking a few extra moments to look a homeless lady in the eyes, and help her find the coin she just lost in the grass at a park by my work.

I have discovered so many ways to see and know God in the places and people I encounter during the ordinary moments of my day. These are the seeds that have planted themselves into my heart and spirit.

How lovely is the way this garden has grown itself.

Last week-end hosted amazing weather. I spent Sunday, garden tools in hand, cultivating, weeding and watering what has become my favourite little garden plot, filled with strawberry plants. To my utter surprise and amazement, a new little gift has emerged from the soil. Unexpected and unplanned, standing strong and proud, is a mysterious little tulip. “Now, where did you come from, little one?” I asked. “Never mind, I am so glad you are here. Welcome to our wonderful, mysterious, magical garden!”

I have found so much joy and peace in this.

tulip

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A Snapshot of one Sunday in these Post-Church Years

This morning I wake up to the soothing sound of rain pelting on my roof. I roll over in bed, cuddle closer to my husband and our little dog who is snoring between us, and let the rain drops soothe me back to sleep.

You see, it’s Sunday morning … and I have nowhere I have to be.

Later the rain continues to fall, now bouncing on the kitchen skylight, as I sit cozy in the den debating on whether I should light the fireplace; I am embracing the changing season. I linger over a cup of coffee, breathing deeply, feeling at peace and grateful.

How lovely that it is Sunday morning … and I have nowhere else to be.

A few years ago, this would be an entirely different story.

A few years ago, I was an active member of a small evangelical Christian church, and Sunday mornings found me very busy. I often neglected to pause to catch my breath or to find the time to really soak up and enjoy God’s creation. I kept myself too busy to simply be.

But now my mornings are relaxed, calm, peaceful and full of opportunities for gratitude.

I hear my husband walking down the hall. I smile. I could recognize the sound of his walk anywhere. “Coffee is on” I say. And we enjoy the morning hours together, having breakfast, talking quietly, making plans, discussing recent happenings, laughing, relishing the gift of each other. Life is busy with our two careers, grown daughters and one grandson. It’s wonderful to have this time to connect – just the two of us.

The morning rain gives way to a fresh, breezy sunny afternoon. It’s early fall. I do a quick tidy of our loving little home, washing bed sheets and hanging them outside to dry. I pause and reflect … Oh, how I love the smell of sheets that have been air dried. They carry the sweet smell of the village where we live.

The hubby heads off to do some errands and I hook the leash on our little doggy. He jumps and squeals with excitement in response to the word “walk”. I smile.

We start our journey along our favourite path with much tail wagging and sniffing. We walk past open fields colourful with goldenrod and other wildflowers, we hear the steady gentle buzzing of insects and the rustle of leaves as the wind blows through. This same breeze catches my hair and tickles the back of my neck.

What a gift it is to be alive on this bright, breezy Sunday afternoon, with nowhere else I have to be.

The day passes peacefully, lazily, as I putter. One of our daughters has left home to start her own little family, and I have been renovating her former bedroom into a new yoga room. Today I remove a rug from one space and place it in this new space. I smile at the results. I breathe deep and an image comes to my mind of my husband carefully painting the window frame of this room. He’s done a lot of work here, scraping stucco off the ceiling and painting the walls my choice of a “gentle rain” grey. I sense the love with which he created this room. Like the love I imagine Jesus felt as He spoke the world into being. In here, I feel safe and warm.

It’s become a sacred place to spend time in on this Sunday where I am free to just be.

Later I pour myself a glass of rosé from my favourite winery. My mind travels back to a couple of Sundays ago when my husband and I jumped onto his motorcycle and we spent the day touring around. He drove me to my favourite winery in Niagara on the Lake because this is the only place your can purchase this particular wine. It’s not sold in stores. I remember how special that Sunday was. And then my mind flows to other Sundays. Sundays filled with fun, spontaneity and love. Sundays spent laughing with my little grandson, daughter and her partner. Family Sundays spent with my Mother in Law. Sundays spent with friends. Sundays of fun and enjoyment. Sundays of peace and contentment. Sundays spent enjoying the many gifts God has blessed me with. Sundays of gratitude.

How I love these Sundays. Days where I have nowhere in particular to be. Days where I am free to be me.