Every afternoon these days, whether heavy grey clouds are creeping over the horizon or the clearest blue sky is canopied above, I walk out into my garden. Orange blossoms mix with the scent of ripe Meyer lemons. Jasmine climbs over everything — miniature flowers offering up their fragrant praise. The earth smells of wild cinnamon and wet bark. If each scent were a sound, our California landscape would be a symphony orchestra. And it’s intoxicating.
Even still, though the garden is my personal Eden and bids me come each afternoon, I’ll be honest… responding to the call takes muscular, intentional spiritual discipline. Of course, all I need to do is step over the Legos and open the glass slider in the family room, but there are simply too many responsibilities that keep me running all day long. The Legos need picking up. No, stopping isn’t an option — but it’s the only option if I’m going to keep going. And I’ve got to keep going.
Though my story’s at home with a garden outside, there are working women who need to find their own Eden on their commute, or tucked within the confines of their unique challenges. Perhaps first thing in the morning, scrolling through social media, God wants to invite you to stop scrolling and start strolling. We can stroll through the garden with Him, even when we’re tucked under covers and reading the Word, even when we’re going. In the car, choosing sacred silence or a song. But it takes discipline, spiritual, muscular, intentional, purposeful, life-giving discipline to drive in the silence and abide.
With homeschooling and homemaking whirling and twirling me from one homebound responsibility to the next, and three boys all signed up for different afternoon activities, it’s possible to not even look up and out the window, to the Morning Glory vines. Cotton tailed rabbits dart off toward the rose garden, inviting me with their game. Weeds are tall as the bushes from the rain. Daffodils, all vibrant yellow, smile in at me. That’s when I push my chair back, determined.
The middle boy with his math book spread out before him asks where I’m going. He has a whole slew of data left to put into pie charts and a bar graphs. “I can’t remember the difference between the median and the mean and the mode,” he calls. But I keep walking, because I can’t remember the feeling of the sun on my skin and I need Vitamin D or I won’t be able to smile come dinnertime.
My sweet friend and mentor, Sally Clarkson, wrote these words half a dozen years ago, when my boys were four, six, and eight: “I will take time for a moment of pleasure and peace, because it centers me, and I have decided I will last longer in this very long distance race if I build anchors of serendipity into my schedule.”
Spiritual disciplines anchor my soul to holy ground, and tether my soul to the Holy One. My garden and the sun, take me back to the garden and the Son. I can’t stumble past His invitation to abide another day. Though it doesn’t fit into my days, it must. I can’t pass it up, pass Him up. Because the fruit that grows in my garden is nothing compared to the fruit the Master Gardener grows in a woman’s life when she walks with Him, abides with Him, and He abides in her.
My husband travels for work, the boys’ sports keep us out till 9:30 many nights each week, and by the time I head to bed I find a crumpled pile of laundry that I push back into the hamper for another dance around the dryer in the morning. I’m running a physical race you see, and it’s taking its toll on me physically and emotionally. If I’m not careful, I’ll be hurting spiritually and relationally as well. That’s why being careful is a Spiritual discipline too. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about.
The children call out from the other room and ask me to come, but I don’t. They just want to show me how they can lip sync to a silly song, but I’m all sung out — wrung out. My husband makes it home in time for bed, and finds me muttering into the late night sink of suds. He’s eager to be intimate with me, but I’m poured out — worn out. There’s simply too much to get done, and I’m offended that no one else sees the mountain of dishes in the sink. That’s when I decide to practice the Holy discipline of a hot shower, because that provides “a moment of peace and pleasure” when I let it — so I let it. I abide in the steam of the shower late at night, because my morning devotions and an afternoon stroll through the garden still weren’t enough to get me through. Abiding has to be a continuous sort of branch to the vine relationship if we’re going to bear fruit. And my husband needs me to bear intimate and engaged fruit when he finally makes it back home to me.
Spiritual Fruit and relational fruit all die on the laurels of my life when I’m not disciplined enough to connect to the vine and abide there throughout the day.
Here’s the truth that gets me into the Word and out to the garden, and prayerfully quiet in the car, and worshipping late at night in the shower… Bitterness grows up from the soil of my inner metaphorical garden if I don’t take a stroll through literal gardens each day. I’m reminded of these lyrics to the old sacred song, In the Garden:
If you don’t know how or when to pull away from your daily tasks, so much like Martha… let me invite you to practice the Spiritual discipline of sitting down like Mary.
Slow down, sit down, put it all down, so you don’t end up run-down by sun down.
Creating pockets of peace, “moments of peace and pleasure,” as Sally encourages us, seems light and lofty when the reality of our days are often heavy and dark, but there’s nothing we need more than a stroll with the Lord in the middle of the day if we’re going to make it to the end of our day. We need spiritual muscles to grow spiritual fruit.
Push past how inconvenient it is to stroll the next time you’re tempted to pick up your phone and scroll. Press on to be still and abide, when you’re tempted to keep up the pace. You’ll never make it through this “very long distance race” that way.
Here at WendySpeake.com, each season — winter, spring, summer, fall — we give our readers a series of three free downloadable prints to decorate your heart and home. The hope is that we’ll inspire you to abide and bear fruit with each song lyric, every Bible verse, and every quote too. I pray this artistic offering inspires you to run to the garden, to the One who longs to walk with you and talk with you and tell you that you are His own. Sign up here to receive this spring’s, citrus inspired series!