There is a soothing balm for the soul that seems especially available in a garden. The only stipulation, for tapping into it, is that the pilgrim must come alone.
Years ago, a thoughtful friend came to share with me the good news that she was expecting her second child. She wanted me to know before the community, so that I could hear it from her. I was just coming to realize, during that time, that I was experiencing infertility (and did for over 12 years). Her kindness touched me deeply. After she left, I wandered over to the greenhouse and sat down. I was happy for her, but I was also aware of an inner grief. Instead of going into the house, I craved to be alone in the garden. Our sweet and feminine Kitty came out of the bushes and settled into my lap. I found comfort in my garden (or it found me).
Another time, after I had received a tragic message over the telephone, I immediately headed out the back door straight to the bench at the back of the garden. I needed to be alone before I could share the sad news with my husband and visiting family. I talked, or I guess you could say prayed, in the simplest form, like a child reaching out to grasp a hand as it tries to navigate a slippery slope.
It has become a habit over the years, when I am overwhelmed, to retreat outdoors. There was a precedent for this over 2000 years ago. I am in good company. When Jesus heard about the beheading of John, he retreated to a solitary place. And of course, there is the famous Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spoke to the Father about what he was about to undergo. The Bible says we are to imitate Christ. Getting away from it all and sitting in a quiet spot, outside, is as natural as breathing to me, now. I am still working on the example Jesus left for us to say to God, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Life has a way of giving us many opportunities to practice this. Stuff happens…
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” – Isaiah 58:11