“Those boxwoods took twenty years to grow into a decent hedge,” my sister said and pointed to them lining one of her flower beds. We sat in her gliders, watching swallows swooping and diving in circles across the meadow, searching for nesting sites. My eyes moved beyond the meadow, out to the scrub oaks that stand guard at the property line. They too are slow growers, I thought. Taking their time to establish their roots so that they can weather the high winds and lashing rains that come in the winter.
I thought back to the decades of my growth, slowly learning to let go and to let God—learning to give my ego over to Him. “I’m not done, yet, God,” I said silently. “There is still so much to learn about love and grace.
“Slow growth is good growth,” God whispered in my ear.
My sister pointed to the flock of wild turkeys that had come into view in the meadow— a momma and her little chicks, proud poppa watching over them. I smiled, the babies were so cute, scratching about for food. My heart was full of joy, completely lost in the moment, watching them
“Your growth is right on time, Sparrow.”
I nodded, thankful for the reassurance that my slow and steady tortoise pace was pleasing to Him. “I’ll keep growing, with your help,” I whispered back.
The morning had a familiar feel to it, soft but salty, the way it used to feel when I was a little girl, growing up by Jacksonville Beach. It made me smile with happy memories. I climbed down the stairs from the deck into the heart of the garden and sat at the blue French table to enjoy my coffee. The flowers, kissed with dew, gleamed in the early sun, Although the birds were absent from the feeder, and none singing nearby, there was music in the air— the sound of life humming about the garden. “What a glorious symphony this is, God,” I said. “Thank you.”
A breeze stirred the flowers, sending them bobbing and weaving about, waving to me. I breathed in deeply. “There’s glory in the air this morning God. Your glory.” I took a sip of my coffee and gave thanks for all the wonders God created for me today.
Driving at 6 a.m., the light at the top of the street turned red, even though mine was the only car at the intersection. Out beyond the bay, behind the hills, the sun was rising. In an instant, she crested— a tiny spot of blinding light— growing bigger. I had to raise my hand to shield my eyes as her orb lifted above the curve of the earth. Does the sun ever tire of warming the earth? I wondered. The light changed, and I gently pressed on the gas. The car rolled forward, towards the nursery.
Walking in the open air amid the rows of plants, I was in awe of the diversity of God’s handiwork. You never tire of creating, do you, I thought. I picked out a salvia for the back corner near the garden gate and placed it in the cart I pushed.
“Creating is what I do,” God whispered as I picked out some gazanias for the front of the bed. “I can’t tire of it, or I’d not be God.” He smiled. “Just as the sun can’t tire of her work to warm the earth, or she wouldn’t be what I created her to be.” He smiled.
“Can you give me an indefatigable desire to do the work you’ve created me to do?” I asked.
“Yes, I’ve already placed it in your heart,” He answered. “It’s why you write. It’s why you garden. It’s why you love the way you do.”
“Thank you,” I said. I picked out some sunflowers and placed them gently in the cart with the other flowers, eager to get back home to plant them all in God and mine’s garden.
Standing on the garden path, I thought the summer’s sun had tricked my mind— a kind of feverish delusion— as the flowers whispered, “Listen.” I leaned in closer, straining to discern what I had heard. There it is was again! “Listen.” My heart heard it, distinctly. “God, I may be going mad,” I said. “Your flowers are speaking to me.”
“They have much to tell you if you pay attention,” He answered.
“What do they want me to know?” I asked.
“They will tell you,” He said, gently.
I sat down on the pathway, the pavers almost too hot for comfort. But there I sat, expectantly.
“We are God’s smiles,” they said. “His laughter, too. He created us for your enjoyment, that you might know the bliss in His heart.”
I nodded, amazed.
“Every blossom holds the story of creation, reaching back to the beginning of time, for we were there before God hung the sun and the moon in the heavens,” they whispered. “When you look upon us, you look upon the goodness of God, which is inherent in all things.”
I rose, the heat from the pavers too much to bear any longer. The flowers moved with the wind as the afternoon breeze came in off the ocean, cooling down me and the garden.
“Thank you,” I said. Silently, they nodded and went about being the goodness that they are; the goodness that is in all of God’s creation.
Late in the afternoon, when the sun was losing her intensity, I tugged on my overalls and garden gloves and set out to plant red amaranth. The birds at the feeder kept me company, singing their little songs, talking amongst themselves about the day. Digging the holes, my trowel turned up clods of soil. I broke them open with my hands, crumbling them into little pieces so that the roots of the plants could grow more easily.
“Be my gardener, God. Break open the clods in me that keep my roots from growing,” I prayed. I placed a plant into the hole I’d prepared. “Welcome to the garden, little one,” I whispered.
Off in the distance, out beyond the trees that grow in a line toward the sea, I heard the soft sounds of God’s breath heading my way. I closed my eyes and turned my face so to feel it’s warmth. It moved around me, filling the garden with peace— gently breaking open my heart.