Monday, March 24, 2008

The Secret Garden and the Desires of My Heart

It has been some time since I have posted anything of significance and the topic of this post has to do with why that has been so. For the last couple of months I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying about my role in life and in the Kingdom. I have been wondering and praying yet again about how to live in a way that best honors God within the framework of who I am and the gifts I have been given. I was back to thinking that perhaps my gifts in listening and encouraging should be given more priority in the paths I choose in serving people. I have mused about and considered ministries of compassion and spiritual direction and have explored what is needed for each and for a while I thought I was on to what might be a good idea. A week or so ago I chatted with the Pastor of Congregational Care at my church about his role and what it involves, thinking that I might gain a better sense of my direction from what he shared. And as it turned out, I did. It just wasn't the direction and confirmation I was expecting.

During the course of that discussion the topic turned to gardens and I mentioned that I was going to be taking care of the small enclosed open-air garden that was built into the addition of the church. And as soon as I said the words, I recognized the enthusiastic anticipation of getting to work on a neglected garden and turning it into something wonderful. I was hoping to create something beautiful for Easter morning in spite of the nighttime temperatures being in the mid-20s. As the week before Easter passed I had many other things to attend to, including presenting a program about gardening with native plants for the Lancaster County Bird Club and I was more busy than I had been in a while. And yet, even in the busyness my mind returned over and over to the garden at church and wondering about what I could put in that would bring joy to those who happened to pass by and notice. I went to a nearby garden center and saw that they had their bulb flowers and pansies outside where they had hardened off to the temperatures and I knew what I was going to do. I went home and got the pots I had planned on using out of the shed, scrubbed them in the bathtub, took them back to the garden center and after a good deal of searching and figuring, bought the needed plants. That was on Thursday and I knew that I wouldn't be able to do the planting until the evening before Easter because of everything else I needed to do on Friday and Saturday. Finally late on Saturday afternoon I was home again and began poting up my flowers.

It was as I was beginning to lay out the aforementioned pots, soil, water and plants that I realized just how much I had been looking forward to starting in on this very job of planting and creating what my mind's eye had envisioned. I worked hurriedly, knowing that I would have only a few hours of daylight left and that I would probably need them all. It was after six o'clock when I finally loaded up the car with the planted pots and headed over to church, hoping against hope that there wouldn't be many people around. I longed for an undisturbed time of quiet and peace, as I had more on my mind than just the flowers and the garden and I was happily rewarded with that which I sought. I unlocked the door into the garden, and spent the next hour raking leaves, mulching beds and setting out pots of bright yellow tulips and purple and yellow pansies and hyacinths. And as dusk fell I sat in the midst of "my" finished garden,breathing in its fragrance and thanking God for His mercies and His grace. As I left to head home I remembered the movie "The Secret Garden" and wonderingly realized that, as surprising as it still seemed, I had been given my own secret garden...a neglected and sleeping spot but one filled with promise and potential...and just like in the movie, it involved a locked door and a special key. I have wished for a secret garden ever since seeing the movie for the first time but supposed that, since I was an adult, it wasn't likely to ever really happen.

And so, no matter how many people might have been blessed with the garden's beauty on Easter morning, I was more so. I have carried a sadness these last few days that is deep and about which I'll say no more except to say that I am once again acutely aware of how desperately I need a Saviour. As I sat there in the garden, I thankfully realized that God had already known my need and given me an unexpected task that would bring more solace than anything I could have conceived on my own. He pointed me towards that needy garden and to making it into something beautiful...just like He does with our lives when we let him. The words of the Scripture passage came to mind as I was driving home..."Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Any who read this blog already know how much tending the earth means to me. To once again have God's blessing and affirmation of that desire means even more.


Amy Starr said...

Ann. Thank you for working on the garden at EBIC. We enjoyed the flowers you placed there for Easter - what wondeful color in the dul brownness of a winter garden! Blessings - I look forward to seeing and enjoying the fruits of your labor!

Amy Starr

Joanna said...

Dear Mom,
I am stuck here at the airport, and just read your post, and have tears in my eyes. Even if I am not worshiping with you and at church on Sunday morning, I feel very blessed to be with you in spirit, and to hear your heart and picture you working in that little space, making it something alive and beautiful. And no one could do it better.

I love you very much.