I come to the garden alone…
It’s 5:30 a.m. I’ve just waived goodbye to Jim as he leaves for work. Luna, our Siamese cat, and I watch as his taillights disappear down the road, in a swirl of dust. The sun is just peeping over the horizon and the yard looks very sleepy and still.
Usually the first sound I hear is Chippy…our resident tufted titmouse. He comes to the window daily (for over a year) and interacts with Luna. I greet him and watch for a few moments, but I’m in hurry. My favorite time of day will slip away quickly, so I must move on.
Today, as I head outside, a cool breeze greets me. I know it will not last, so I savor the soft caress of my cheek and gentle whisper that moves my hair. I think of the Father, knowing that this is his touch. *
As I head across the yard, I admire the sunrise. Bursting colors of pinks and blues remind me that each day is a gift. The smell of roses and honeysuckle fill the air. Tree frogs chirp away and I am reminded that God is still God, that he doesn’t change, and he is faithful. **
By now, the mockingbird is aware of my presence. She complains loudly as I near her nest, but I merely smile and keep going. The garden is my destination. I disturb yet another creature…a barred owl, that drops from the branch of the oak tree and glides ghost-like across the pasture.
As I sit on my bucket and begin to pick strawberries, the world around me is waking up. It doesn’t take long for the sky to go from pinks and blues to a brightness that has no color. Already the temperature is climbing. The cool breeze warms, and the rest of the birds are letting me know that they are there. A pair of bluebirds hover near me as I realize that their babies are out of the nests and are in the garden as well. I assure them that I mean their babies no harm, but they keep an eye on me anyway.
The dew on the leaves is so pretty, glistening in the sunlight. I stop to take a picture and to stretch my back. I think back to before the rains watered the earth, to when the water came up from the earth itself. I think of the original garden and how much joy God must have had creating it. I think of Adam and Eve, walking in the coolness with God, and hope that one day, I’ll be able to do that as well. ***
My good friend, Mr. Garter Snake, makes an appearance. He likes to lay beneath the leaves of the rhubarb plants and that’s where he comes from now. He glides by my foot, caring not that I am there. He goes through the strawberries and across to the blackberry bushes. I appreciate him so much for keeping the mice out of my strawberries, but I do get up long enough to make sure there are no baby bluebirds where he wandered. No…he’s curled up in another cool place and the babies are no where near him.
I pick steadily, stopping occasionally to stretch or eat a particularly tempting strawberry. Eating the warm from the garden is my favorite, however, sitting atop a bowl of ice cream isn’t bad either. As they warm up, the smell is attracting our bees and they hum along beside me as I pick.
By now, I’ve been picking about two hours and I’m nearing the end. I make myself be diligent, even though my back and neck are begging me to stop. As I am finishing up, I think of how my husband, Jim, planted these strawberries and how God brought the rains to make them grow. ****
Ora et Labora, pray and work, is the way of St. Benedict’s Rule. My time in the garden is filled with prayers…for a dear friend whose mother just passed away…for our daughter -in-law, pregnant with twins…for our children and grandchildren…for the suffering in our world…for our priests and religious. So many prayers, joined with work, creating a balance in my soul.
The garden for me has always been more that a source of food…it is a place of great joy and fellowship. A place where my soul can join with the world around me and enjoy the Father’s presence. I may come to the garden alone…but I am never alone.
- I Kings 19:12
- Lamentations 3:23
- Genesis 1
- I Corinthians 3:7