“I was walking in this very large and wild garden, and in the midst, working away was a Gardener. I asked what He was doing, and he smiled and said, “Why, I’m working on your heart of course.”

That was a dream I woke up from, over a decade ago, and it’s been the kind that lingers in the back of my mind, a hum of reminder.

It’s been a rough year. I found out that my 37th move would be the one to finally break me. Break me, not like the lamp I dropped when I moved from Lone Oak to Prosper, TX-but break me like I break up dried paint on my easels.

I have spent my life in wonder at the difficult circumstances that I always seem to be in the midst of. Constant upheaval, constant change, confusion about where I was in life compared to my friends, financial hardship, cult abuse back to back, unwise relationships, overseas jobs falling through.

I would look at my friends, who were all married by mid-twenties, and how life had calmed into the steady river of daily life for them.

Marriage didn’t temper the pace of my life, or desist the feeling that everyone else has slowed down long enough to get a footing on life. It did give me a companion for the wild ride!

I married a gardener, and now when I sit outside and watch the butterflies and bees zip through our little patch of vegetables, God speaks.

A good garden, run by a good gardener, is never not in a state of development. To bring fruit or flowers or healthy growth, a garden is weeded, pruned, worked, watered, tended to. There are transplants, seeds to germinate, bushes to dead-head.

Our hearts are much like gardens. If they’re left sitting, they will eventually wither. When there is sickness in plants, you work with them to stave out the disease. When there are pests, you line the garden with a fence, you spray against them, you hang shiny things from trees. To keep a garden, is to be vigilant, and in-tune.

Since the move, the nastiness of my heart was tilled up. I felt old, tired, abandoned by God, angry. So very angry. I felt that I was still roiling in distress because my friends that married younger, my friends that aren’t always having to look ahead to the next move, my friends that have lived next to the same faces and friends and family for years, are having babies and more babies. I despair while my 30’s plod on and I’m childless, far -removed from familiarity, and gasping for breath as I learn the next language, study the next people group. I felt scared by my own darkness, and afraid that something was broken deep within.

Then one day in the garden, God spoke a truth that brought Hope. God did not leave. He did not stop working. He did not abandon me in my humanity, in my worst. He did not forget my deepest wish, he did not send me into exile.

He has been tilling the ground, weeding, watering a dry and weary land, pruning dead places off. He has let the pests show themselves, and built walls around me. He has transplanted my roots into new soil, with room to grow.

This, this stirring in me when I’m walking between flowers in the summer evenings, is the invitation to partake. To water a heart so thirsty, to get into the dirt and rejoice at the coolness and relief from the hot summer sun.

What the neighbors might see as a garden upended, will be a fine place. My God is my friend, who tends a Good Garden.

One day, perhaps people can say :

“Let’s visit that garden at the end of the street. It is beautiful.”

-Rebekah, Home office, USA