My Grandmother’s Garden: Roots of Faith

Summer is that time that so often brings me back to my childhood. With bare feet in the grass, the sun on my face, and the small quiet hum of the bees I am instantly transported to those quiet reflective moments with God. Many of my earliest memories are replete with these instances where I am drawn into conversation and contemplation, simply by being open to listen and ready to praise. Though I would beg to visit my grandma whenever I could, our time in the summer was especially unhurried and particularly memorable. Perhaps this was in part because my mother was usually either teaching summer school or taking professional development herself and it was just the two of us. Yet, more so because there were no real demands upon either of us but the invitation to simply enjoy one another’s time together.

Effortlessly, my grandma witnessed her own love and commitment to making space for prayer and devotion to God in everything she did.  This began early in the morning while the dew was still on the roses, and the birds could be heard softly chiming, “Get up, and greet this new day that God has given!” There were no other alarm clocks in her house, and I remember thinking that this must be what heaven was like. While she began breakfast, I was given a long sleeved shirt, gloves and a few small baskets to carry outside to hold the treasure of blackberries for the day. As my sometimes sandaled feet brushed against the dewy blades of grass, and the sparrows called out to one another, I realized that I could go no further. With eyes closed, and a content peaceful smile on my face, I felt privileged to be among these first harbingers of the day.

“God thank you for inviting me today to share in this unbelievably beautiful beginning, and to know that your newness is always available. What you have provided for creation, you have allotted for me too!”

Berry after berry, small, large, dark and plump, my basket soon filled and I would joyfully find myself in gratitude for this great harvest. Alone these were delicious enough, but if I was truly lucky my grandma would take a few to bake in a pie. Here I glimpsed the joy of work, singing hymns and chatting as we rolled the cold buttery dough out upon the marble.  Prayer for my Grandma was not regulated to any particular time or activity, but permeated every motion and second of each day.

 
Then, while waiting for the pie to cool, my eyes would soon spy the rope swing under the giant Mimosa tree in garden. This rugged notched plank of wood was my cherished seat under an umbrella of pink airy flowers and sprawling fern like branches. The higher I swung the more exhilarating I felt till I thought my toes would indeed touch the clouds.  Then just like that, I would stop to feel the air rushing past me and the stillness of my heart, breathing in the peace that suddenly seemed to envelope me.

“God you are there in the busy excitement of life, and as we are called to slow down to feel your undeniable presence”.

 

Nighttime, beckoned and I gleefully climbed under the covers in the bedroom adjoining the garden, surrounded on three sides by windows. Atop this goose down mattress, with moonlight streaming in all around, I would fall asleep to the sound of the crickets and my evening prayers.

“Father, how thankful I am that you created this incredibly infinite universe for us to enjoy. Start to finish you have reminded me throughout my day that you are with me. From the first morning rays to the stars that look down on me, I am part of your divine creation. Help me to shine your light and love in all that I do. Help me to be a good steward of your gifts that you have so graciously entrusted to me. Thank you, dear heavenly father for my Grandma who has shown me all of this in her love of you.”

Peace,

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