I found a blue bird’s feather in the garden this morning. As I studied its delicate structure and coloring I wondered to myself how anyone can honestly think that such a thing came into existence through some cosmic accident. How can others not see the miraculous details in God’s design? How can they not marvel at the beauty that unfolds each day all around them? Perhaps they don’t have a garden.
I used to think that my garden was just a treat for my eyes. Then I began to understand that it is really a solace for my soul. The flowers in my garden and the creatures that visit it bring me daily insights into God’s power and planning. My walks through the garden help me solve problems and gain a better understanding of the mysteries of my life.
One of my hibiscus plants died last week. The plant next to it is fine. They both received the same water, light, and care. I’ll probably never know why one died and the other lived. It’s the same with us. People die. We don’t often know the reason, and we can’t understand the timing of God’s plan. My mother died when she was just 67. I see her now, as I pass by the daisies that she loved, or pick a rose from the bush that I transplanted from her garden. I miss her so much! But gardening has taught me that life goes on and the next flower, the next season, may be more glorious than the last. My mother started a work in me, and I carry on. My daughters and granddaughters carry my mother’s genes, and the hopes and dreams of the next season.
The tortoise ambling across my lawn reminds me that we each have our own pace in life. Sometimes mine is very slow. I stroll through the garden thinking and praying and just enjoying life. The Bible tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Perhaps he gave us that message because he doesn’t want us to hurry through our experiences. He wants us to savor them and learn from them. He doesn’t want us to be so caught up in the “busyness” of life that we miss the joy of it. He doesn’t want us to escape from our problems until we’ve gleaned the lessons of them.
My neighbor and I paused to examine a bed of zinnias today and we marveled at the differences in colors and shapes and sizes. A gentle reminder that it takes all kinds of people to make the world a better place. We have friends with more money, bigger houses, better jobs. I have to learn to live with my blessings, to be content with my joy. I may not be the best or smartest, but if I’m living my life and committing myself to what the Lord wants me to do, that’s enough. Each of us has to be true to our own gifts and use them for the glory of our creator.
My garden has also taught me patience. I spend so much time waiting and waiting- for sprouts, for blossoms, for fruit. Prayers are like that. We ask and then wait and wait for answers. Problems are like that. We look at them from every angle and wait for understanding and enlightenment. God knows that waiting is difficult for us, but he gives hope, and rewards us for waiting: “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; (Psalm 27:14).
I’m not the first in my family to find peace in the garden. Gardening is a family legacy. My grandmother took me through her flower garden when I was a small child. She taught me how to pull weeds without disturbing the sprouting flowers. My grandfather taught me the names of vegetables. My father gardens, my daughters garden, and their children garden. So it is with God’s love and his teachings. Our legacy. To be passed on to the next generation, and the next. As I walk through my garden each day I am reminded that I’m walking through life with God.