Monday, April 18, 2011

The All-Weather Gardener

   As I have braved the cold, wet and windy climate this week to spend some time in my garden, I was reminded of an article that I wrote in early winter last year.  Parts of my garden are now looking nice and green already, and parts are still holding on to the hope of renewal... and that is what I am holding on to today for my own heart.

re-post from Dec 2010:
One cold late-autumn day, I stay inside to do the wife-task of ironing collared shirts for my husband... which I actually enjoy, sometimes, when I can put on music and make it a kind of meditative, worship time... one of the few times that I allow myself to slow down and be reflective while still in my house full of chores.

The pile has over a dozen shirts that I have saved up (or maybe ignored) until I must do this task.
     I heat up the iron, turn on the music and  
          let the Lord start to iron out the wrinkles in my heart...

I draw my curtains back so that I can look out onto the Shade Path while I work...
   The song on loop is one of my new favorites, Matt Maher's "Garden"... it is quiet (which I need while my two toddlers and one baby sleep), peaceful, and reminds me of the Lord's presence with me...
And you walk with me
You never leave
You're making my heart a garden
  As I start to relax, I begin to let down from my long day.  Being the mother of three small children can be exhausting!  I give and give, and try to give more though my flesh is howling in resentment.  I am worn from their needs and requests, but also from the battle with my own selfishness.

I am faced in this quiet moment with my sinfulness... the mess that is my life... all that I do not do...
     and all that I do, that I hate...

And I look out at that cold, almost frosted garden...

Everything green is dying down...
   what's left looks  
     broken, brown, shabby...
     on its way into the dormant season...
     the cold, frozen, dead-looking season...

                                  ...Like my heart
                                                    looks and feels.

   Our Shade Path is very near to the sidewalk and the road, and our home is situated on a fairly busy street headed into the downtown area.  Many, many times in this fall planting season
I have been out gardening in the cold afternoon... sometimes in the rain with water dripping down my hood... sometimes with fingers mostly frozen.   

And they pass me by.

The cars... the kids walking home from school.  And I feel the weight of curious,  
                    unbelieving eyes as they see me out there in that nasty weather.
                                                                               I think to myself, "They must think I am crazy."

  And what am I doing?  I am perfecting my garden.
That brown mess.   Beloved mess.  Truly, I am out there because I love it!
I love admiring what is there, even in this harsh season.

  I am tweaking the beauty that will exist next year... moving seedlings... planting hundreds of bulbs...
The beauty is hidden, dormant... cannot be seen by normal vision right now.
Only through eyes of faith can I see it already full of flowers... 
new growth... new color combinations... new heights of beauty. 
And you walk with me
You never leave
You're making my heart a garden

...the chorus sings on and I am suddenly struck: I am a garden!
I am brown and broken, yet loved by my Gardener
He tends me in the most caring way...
looking happily at the new growth here and shuffling more bulbs there...  
and He is making my heart beautiful.

Like me, He is an all-weather gardener...
     enjoying me right where I am,
          and patiently working into me the beauty that is to come


  1. I like your perspective. All weather gardener and the beloved brown mess. Only a gardener looks at the garden in the off season and sees so much more.

  2. I love this song as well. And I am enjoying seeing the fruit of your love and tender care in your garden(and His in your heart). It encourages me. Thank you.

  3. I am enjoying your blog so very much over my coffee this morning, love it =) This is a beautiful post, cheers to ALL weather gardening, to wearing raincoats & galoshes, to not letting the weather stop you from what you love doing =) ps. I want to go visit Giverny too!!

  4. I love the comparison that we are a garden being tended by the Gardener. Very encouraging. Each day I awake to see just how much more green there is outside my window. God's warmth and love over His garden and over His children.

  5. I am so thankful for Him, too! That He can take my ugliness and turn it into beauty... :) Wonderful post.

  6. good reminder Julie. Love ya! Getting all suited up for yet another glumpy track meet.

  7. Typing comment through tears...we are imperfect and messy just like our gardens, but we are covered by His grace...Praise God! Beautifully spoken Julie.

  8. Julie, I think every mother feels like the brown and broken garden at times. Thank you for the beautiful words of hope and the perspective you've shared. Praise to our Savior and Redeemer for the mercy he gives us. His hand is stretched out still ever beckoning us to come to him, repent, and stive to be the best garden we can be. We are becoming like him. What a loving and merciful Gardener he is!

  9. A wonderful post! Having raised three boys, I know the weariness and brokenness you speak of. I am glad God doesn't mind getting down in the muck to make us into something more beautiful!

  10. I love this post Julie:) Thanks for sharing.


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