In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. James 1:21 (The Message)
This morning I bring my Bible, journal, and cup of tea into the garden. A light mist hangs over the fields across the road, and I am surprised to see tender green shoots of corn forming rows where yesterday there was nothing but dirt. All around me, Dame’s Rocket thrusts purple and white spires toward the skies like holy hands reaching toward heaven. Boxwood shimmers greenly in the breeze, and a yellow weed at the fence line bursts into flame as a sunbeam peeks through the clouds.
The words of Psalm 63, my reading this morning, reverberate through my mind. “O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is.”
In the sanctuary of this garden the desert landscape of my heart—that dry and dusty place where worry and anxiety about my son, Joel, who has autism, sometimes threaten to overwhelm me—turns to an oasis of green, flowing with streams of living water. Prayer rises up within me as praise.
No wonder poets and songwriters often refer to the garden as a metaphor for prayer.
And yet, gardens are not always lush and beautiful. Think of the garden in the midst of drought. Parched plants wilt. Green leaves turn to brown. What was abounding in exuberance just weeks before suddenly sags under the weight of cloudless skies with no promise of rain in sight. Nothing will revive the drought-stricken garden like a soft, gentle, soaking rain.
It is no different for the gardens of our hearts. Sometimes, in the words of my son Joel at the end of a major melt-down, “We need Jesus!”
As the mother of a son with autism, I was first drawn more deeply into prayer because of an intense thirst for God’s presence. I was desert-thirsty, parched for the living waters Jesus promises in John 4:14: “. . . but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The more I spend time with God the more the garden of my heart blooms with an unquenchable love for the things of the Spirit. I need God’s presence just as my garden needs the rain.
Take some time to be quiet and meet with God. Listen to what rises up from within. Have a conversation with God. You may have questions to ask him. Ask, expecting to receive an answer. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Be honest with Him. Bare your vulnerable places. And then, once you’ve emptied your heart, simply listen. He has much to say to you.
Lord, I thank you and praise you for your living waters. Open me up, Lord. Open me up to your thirst-quenching presence. Water me, Lord. Water me.
* Where do you most often meet God? Nature? Bible study? Service? Worship? Journaling?
* How might you establish a pattern of going there to pray on a consistent basis?
* In what way do you most often pray? Do you feel “pot-bound”? Might God be calling you to a new prayer avenue?
* What kind of prayer will help you more often to be aware of Jesus’ presence with you?
Excerpted from The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities (Judson Press, 2014)
Used with permission.
The mother of a 29-year-old son with autism, Kathleen Bolduc is a spiritual director in Oxford, Ohio, and the author of several books on faith and disability, including The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities and Autism & Alleluias. Kathy blogs at www.specialneedsparenting.net.
To visit Kathleen Bolduc's Amazon page, click on her picture.