Gardens are built, ultimately, to be a quiet and beautiful place for rest and for meditation and contemplation.
Yeah, right. You wouldn’t draw that conclusion if you were a fly on a rock wall watching what happens in my flower beds. You would see work, work, and more work.
Now that the frost has killed practically everything in sight, the task of clearing out the dead annuals and the frostbitten tops of the perennials is staggering. Yes, you’ll probably see some staggering, too.
You, as the proverbial fly on the wall, would not see the visions racing through my head as I quietly clip the dead stems and pile them in the wheelbarrow. You would not hear the silent prayers going up for friends and family and those strangers for whom I’ve been asked to talk to God in prayer.
You might mistake the occasional tear for the ubiquitous sweat that was promised in Genesis 3:19.
You might not expect the soothing power that hard work can have over a troubled soul. Rolling the wheelbarrow across the now-browned Bermuda grass lawn to the rubbish heap behind the arbor, I might be surveying the improvement and be calmed in my heart.
As I clear away the crispy brown stems of the coreopsis, I might find traces of the tender green leaves emerging from bulbs that will bloom next spring. A quick burst of joy and anticipation is good medicine for a sorrowed mind.
Not all meditation and reflection has to happen in a serene and perfectly landscaped sitting area.
What goes on in the body does not always reflect what goes on in the heart.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NASB).
I am by no means blameless in my speech, but thoughts and feelings are much harder to tame. Both must be acceptable in God’s sight.
Coworkers in the past used to chide me for the “No-Swear Zone” sign I posted at my cubicle in the office where foul language was prevalent.
Wouldn’t it be nice if I could post a “No-Worry Zone” sign in my house and garden? The sign at the cubicle actually worked, and eventually everyone respected it. Words out of my mouth are at least not profane, although I’m sure they could be more kind and far less whiney.
But the meditation of my heart; oh, that’s a tough one.
As surely as the dead and dying plants need to be cleared away from the frost-damaged garden, the thoughts that have proven themselves dead and worthless need to be cleared from our minds.
Doubt, anger, sadness and frustration have their place at the appropriate times. Even worry has been shown to be a mark of an intelligent mind, but it is clearly an exercise in futility (Matthew 6:25-33).
There are joys to be found even in the midst of sad times, just as there are treasures within the dying garden.
One such plant is the sedum “Autumn Joy.” I suppose it’s a joy that it doesn’t flop on the ground when it grows as tall as similar sedums, and the reddish color makes a huge splash at the end of the growing season.
Just as I scoop up the bright colored blooms with a smile softening my worry lines, we must gather up joy wherever we find it. Whatever the emotions are that run through us, we must make the meditation of our hearts acceptable in God’s sight.