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Issue No.117
22 January 2019

Prayer focus: The elements of life

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 Tina Jefferies reflects on how spending time in gardens might help us connect with God


GARDENS ARE THE CONTEXT FOR MANY EVENTS IN THE BIBLE. Backdrops to temptation, pain, suffering, joy and celebration, they are places of intimate encounters with God.

Adam and Eve's temptation to sin is in the Garden of Eden. Gethsemane is the place Jesus prays alone in his struggle. At Golgotha, Jesus takes our sins to the cross and is later placed in the garden tomb. The Gardener comforts Mary Magdalene in her distress. And as for the final garden, God promises us the 'ultimate', paradise.

Gardens and nature offer our God-given senses stimuli, reminding us of our place within creation. All the elements of life, death, growth and creativity are present. From the tiny insect busying itself in pursuit of food and shelter, to the vast canopy of tree and sky above, it's been said that "one is nearer to God in a garden than anywhere else on earth" (DF Gurney).

Observing butterflies sipping nectar, feeling the silent strength of the mighty oak, a garden helps us experience deep spiritual connectivity with the creating hand of God. Like captive birds released, sorrow, pain, suffering and sin, our humanness is laid bare and free before silent witnesses. God shows us renewed perspectives through the trees, plants, birds and insects, "...and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (Isaiah 55:12).

As we loiter in this mighty narrative, we begin to feel more a part of the something 'greater than ourselves' environment, complete yet incomplete. We notice strange paradoxes, new life and hope; decay and death; change, development and renewal; stillness, beauty and peace, and relate them to our own inner life journey. Here we find the Gardener comforts us too.

Stop a while in a garden and...

BE STILL - notice your surroundings, lightly.

LOOK - at its wholeness, beyond, above, before, below.

LISTEN - to the sounds around you, let them drift off into the air.

BREATHE - the fragrances and fill your body with freshness.

FEEL - warmth on your face, gentle breeze upon your form.

BE - in the moment of the garden, attentive, alert, but relaxed. Though apart from, you are a part of.

Nature is the quiet place where God does gentle talking! A prayer of gratitude becomes our natural response.

Tina Jefferies is a Quiet Garden Host and Trustee of the Quiet Garden Movement 


A garden prayer

From tiny insignificant, to the majestic and tall,
Lord our God, you have indeed made a garden for us all.
We are truly grateful for your perfectly staged play, of bounty, beauty, growth, rebirth, and decay.
For the winter chill and dying, for the summer's warmth and life, all things balance perfectly, the seasons are the spice.
May we work and till, and labour still, with hearts that do not cease.
To propagate your Kingdom, Lord, for love and grace and peace.
In the name of Jesus Christ,