On my knees. In the garden.
It grows with wild abandon this year, unkempt as if forgotten. It's not forgotten, just not a priority as time earlier this summer was spent focusing on health issues and running a business. Now more of a priority, and that thing nagging at me every time I look out the window, I've been spending my August mornings clearing pathways, sorting through the wildness, and restoring some order. Not many people I know enjoy weeding, but I'm one of the few who find it relaxing, peaceful, and extremely satisfying. I know the potential the garden holds, and being part of the creative, restorative process brings a sense of joy and is great garden therapy.
As I tackle each garden, one by one, the 'before' is obvious as it looms in front and around me, but I can visualize the 'after', and that's what drives me. What I find amazing is that as I tackle each garden, it's not just the perennials that are rescued and form that is restored, it's me that is tended, fed, and made whole again. The process of any restoration shapes character, sharpens resilience, and grows determination. Whether a garden, a piece of furniture, a car, or an old house, it's the vision that drives us, isn't it? It's that we see the potential of what could be, and belief in those possibilities motivates us through the hard work, setbacks, and challenges.
On my knees. In the quiet.
This time it's my soul that's in need of restoration. Weary from what seems like a marathon of challenges, I'm tired. Yet, I'm resilient. God is a God of restoration. He sees the potential. He uses the challenges and setbacks as stepping stones that build character and perseverance. He restores, room by room, making it beautiful - better than before. I know He is using this journey to help me grow in so many ways. And just as the sun rises every morning, His mercies are new every morning, and I draw strength from knowing that He is present. He is in control, and He is growing something good right now.
What about you?
Do you enjoy taking something old, seeing the potential, and making it into something new?
Are you in need of some soul restoration? If you are, I hope these words encourage you like they've encouraged me:
First, familiar words:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. " Psalm 23:1-3
"For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness, I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." Isaiah 43:19
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us. . . " Romans 5:3-5 NLT
and finally from CS Lewis:
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
Take heart and lean into Him. Find gratitude and joy in this journey of restoration.
Until next time -
It was dusk and had just rained - a sweet, summer kind of rain. She walked through the beautiful, lush gardens. There was music playing in the background, and the breeze carried waves of distant conversation. Yet she walked, her long gown trailing over sopping ground, her fingers running through tall grasses, stopping only to smell the flowers. Such is my memory of a scene from the 1992 version of 'Howards End'. It was the lovely garden and the peaceful smile on Mrs. Wilcox's face that has and will stay with me for a long time. In her garden . . . she found peace and contentment.
From those pages of fictional England where 'even the air smells delicious', I find myself in my favorite spot in my house, and a few moments of quiet. It's a cold, rainy day in May which happens to be my 'off' day. I settle in with the long-awaited magazine, In Her Garden, and enter into another world of beautiful photos and essays. It's just what I need at this moment. A phrase catches my eye as it's woven through the pages: 'In my garden . . . ' and each author, in turn, shares what she finds in her garden. . . immense peace, inspiration, connection with nature, freedom, growth, memories . . .
I find it pretty amazing that such a place can provide a universal balm to the soul. It's incredible, really. If you've been following along, you may have noticed that my blogs have been pretty heavy lately. I find writing as a type of therapy, to sort things out, work through them as thoughts flow from heart through pen to paper, in this case, keyboard. The garden provides this for me as well. A walk down the Hellebore path, pulling a handful of chickweed, planting a few sweet pea seeds . . . it all does wonders for the spirit. In my garden . . . I find refreshment and restoration.
How can the garden, or even bigger than that - nature, offer such healing and solace? Nature is amazing - from the very smallest creature, to the mightiest oak, to the miracle of life contained within a seed, and the intricacy of a spider web - It's all amazing. There are scientific studies that show the mood-lifting benefits of digging in the soil, and I'm sure there are other studies that indicate the healing power of nature. But I have a theory of my own. Maybe it's being surrounded by beauty that refreshes, maybe it's the calming color of green that restores. Maybe, but I believe that through nature, we have an intimate connection with the Creator himself. God, maker of all things, is our true source of peace, inspiration, freedom, and joy. Through his creation, he offers us a place to just be for awhile. He shares with us the joy of watching things grow. He uses nature to nurture us. Even the psalmist says "He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul." (Psalm 23:2-3).
One my favorite things about the garden is that it's a place to be creative. This, too, is a gift from our heavenly Maker, who created the very first garden. Made in his image, we have been given the gift of creativity. We create tidy rows in the vegetable garden, combine colors in the flower garden, and arrange trees, shrubs, and perennials in our landscapes. We create spaces for gathering, spaces for kids to play, and spaces to start and end our day in. In the garden, we can creatively express ourselves, and this too, can be healing. "At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source." - Rachel Naomi Remen, MD.
The rain has stopped for now, and the garden calls, so into the garden I go for some plant therapy. In my garden. . . what do you find there?
Hi, I'm Tracy - horticulturist, beauty-seeker, Word-lover, and blessed to be the owner of Bella Botanica. I also love to write about plants, gardening, and about my faith journey. Thanks for reading!