Thursday, December 8, 2011

The All-Weather Gardener

One cold late-autumn day recently, I stayed inside to do the wife-task of ironing collared shirts for my husband, which I actually enjoy, sometimes. I like to put on music and make it a kind of meditative time; one of the few times that I allow myself to slow down and be reflective while still in my house full of kids & chores.
The pile has over a dozen shirts that I have saved up (and 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 song Garden because it is quiet - which I need while my two girls rest and my baby sleeps. It is also 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 some more though part of me howls in resentment.  I am worn from their needs and requests, but also from the battle within - with my own selfishness.

I am faced in this quiet moment with my shortcomings... all that I do not do... and all that I do, that I hate.

And I look out at that cold, almost frozen 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; our home situated on a fairly busy street.  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 driving home from work... the kids walking home from school.  And I feel the weight of curious, incredulous 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.  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; it cannot be seen by normal vision right now.
Only through 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.

Do you know what it is to be loved, even when you are unlovable?
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

A video worth watching for its amazing BBC botanical time-lapse footage, 
as well as to hear Matt's song, Garden.  


  1. Thanks for the well-written reminder. Like the pictures, too. =)

  2. Julie what an amazing song and video to is why I find my spiritual self in the garden and feel closer to my God there...thx

  3. Beautiful post. My heart is in winter right now. Maybe some day the little sprouts of life will emerge.

  4. This is a beautiful reminder, Julie. I have moments like that, too, only they don't involve ironing. I love doing laundry, but I hate ironing. So I just pull the shirts out of the dryer right away so they don't get wrinkled. It works quite well. :)

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  6. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Your heart is beautiful, as are the words of this post. Thank you for sharing what the Lord laid on your heart one winter day. Thankfully He is not done with us yet, and thankfully He is a patient God of second chances. May your garden and your heart grow more beautiful each day :-)

  7. I share your struggle! I will try to look at the bright side of ironing next time I do that. Thanks for the inspiration! Personally I like those non-iron shirts! Dusting and ironing are my two least favorite household jobs.


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