Perhaps it is more of a blessing than anything else that I have more time for reflection these days. After the double-loads of laundry, medical management, treatment-and-recovery, self care, and various household duties are completed, there are generally more hours than in my past to think about the stuff of life. On Father’s Day yesterday, I started to notice some new parallels between my past and present. It went something like this.
I was posting a picture of my Dad and me on Facebook when I realized how his generosity when he stepped back into my life has become an important part of my current recovery from serious illness. His gift about 6 years ago allowed me to create a garden oasis in our backyard. Here are two of my favorite areas:
Creating the flagstone patio area required graph paper, a ruler, tape measure, and endless gazing from all angles to make the kidney-bean shaped layout meet the vision the Lord had given me. In the next 2 years the process continued with a pair of 8-foot custom steel trellises then a “secret garden” area (basically a re-purposed dog pen!). The planting beds came later as I decided that we needed more privacy from our neighbors behind us and that I wanted to have a garden-view beyond each room of the house. The bed on the right in the 2nd picture is largely of native plants and a key component in earning a Sustainable Garden designation from our local cooperative extension office. The aqua custom shade sail was an incredible find from the “sale” page of a company by the same name. Now that the design is complete the plants have matured and my heart is home.
Dontcha know that my mom was a gardener? She would hunt down the groundskeeper at the local zoo if needed to obtain a plant start of a specimen she just needed to have in her yard. Composting, vegetables, a mounded hill, hanging baskets around the hot tub spa . . . she had all the elements that made her heart happy out there in her suburban back
yard. Her creation came together because of the generosity of her parents too. Some may call it an inheritance. I call it the chance to create something beautiful from the sorrow of a lost family member. And I think it’s o.k. to spend some of it to make the process of going on without him or her a little nicer. Do something that makes your heart happy!
Flash forward 4 years from when the “bones” of our own garden were installed and I am exceedingly grateful for what the Lord has allowed me to design, to create. Lying sickly on that chaise lounge last summer when it looked like there would be little hope for recovery, brought solace of sorts. Lying sickly on that same chair this summer after taking treatments that are slowly giving me my life back is bringing hope and the flow of some new creative juices. My husband, Steve, just smiles a bit when I talk like this. He knows that could mean a little more trimming around a new garden bed or hauling of something heavy to make it happen. Oh how he loves me so! Well I’ll let ya all know how it turns out for sure!
Steve brought me to see this home on our fourth date. He wanted to know, “if things worked out between us could you see yourself living here?” Talk about pressure! I was visiting him in Indiana for the first time from the Chicago suburbs and certainly was not about to make a decision on the spot. At least out loud, that is! But I knew that the bush in the front-and-center of the bay window was a Miss Kim Lilac and just like the one I had lost with the townhome when my former spouse left me. I also knew that the bush next to it was a burning bush that gets a magnificent, fiery shade of red in the Fall and just like the one I . . . well you can see where this is going. It’s like when I viewed Steve’s profile on Yahoo Personals and saw a picture of him with a radio-controlled airplane that reminded me of the flying competitions in which my dad and brothers flew line-control planes when we were kids. Of course I knew that the house was a great idea; I just wasn’t going to tell Steve anything just yet. The home he purchased before we were married became a blank slate for me in remaking so many years that the locusts had eaten . . . . (Joel 2:25)
So I hope you can see how a simple thingy like some flower and vegetable gardens can be so meaningful to someone like me. The draftsman in my Dad has become the designer in me. His surprise generosity allowed me to create a living oasis that was an interest I shared with my mom when I became an adult. Finding a loving place to realize these gifts would come in a way like never before when I found my intended beloved in the arms of my Stevers. Solace, restoration, and hope were all set in motion regardless of my life’s circumstances according the plans of my Heavenly Dad, my Heavenly Husband; He knew all along the seeds He had planted in my heart long before I could ever dig in the dirt of life myself. And just as life on this green earth began in the Garden of Eden, so do our own lives thrive in the planted spaces in which we are tilled and turned, watered, pruned, and nurtured until beauty bursts forth in scented color, in hope beyond that which we can see.
How can I be sad about the losses in my life when my Heavenly Dad has always been there with me? From my garden bench I bid you a “Happy Father’s Day,” Gentle Reader. I pray that you, too, will live in the fullness of life that grows more grand with each passing day: a garden oasis in your soul where the One Who knows us so well can make everything meaningful, anything beautiful in the noon day sun or under the shade tree too. JJ