Humanity's first glimpse of God happened in a garden. Since then we have tried to duplicate its beauty. We plant flowers, grasses, trees. Place fountains. Hang chimes. Augment anemic soils. We water, dig, and make our knuckles bleed. But Paradise eludes us.

Our gardens are environments of perpetual change. The cypress reach their heights of glory as the fruit trees wane. The daffodils finish their blooms just as the liquidambar begins to bud. Pansies and snapdragons wilt in the same heat that brings the roses alive. We are not dissuaded.

Just as a prism of glass miters light and casts a colored braid, a garden sings sweet incantations the human heart strains to hear. Hiding in every flower, in every leaf, in every twig and bough, are reflections of the God who once walked with us in Eden.

To those who give Him permission, He is an unfailing gardener.

Foxglove--Heart Medicine
The same heart-healing medicine found in the leaves of foxglove can also cause a heart to fail. If love maketh a heart merry and also causes it to break, a medicine for its benefit would most certainly have similar risks.

Myth says a heart needs merely to receive love to thrive. But it is in giving and in receiving that the heart grows strong. Amateurs recklessly divvy it up. Exchanges are seldom equitable. Wounds are inflicted. Weaklings withdraw.

But love is a daring dance of surrender. A dance of courage. Love is a labored waltz. The speckled trumpets of the foxglove sound revelry to hearts waiting to dance.

Rose--A View Above the Thorns
I once had a friend stroll through my garden. When she came to the roses, her eyes passed over the vibrant blooms and fastened on the thorns that lined their stems.

"I never could figure out why everyone makes such a big fuss about roses," she said. "All those thorns for a few pink blooms."

When God made the rose, he did not give it volition. Just life. It grows, blossoms, and exudes fragrance as a result of another's toil. God is not a thief. He will not invade that which he does not own. For that which is his, he provides and supplies. He wants to participate in our lives. To those who give him permission, he is an unfailing gardener.

God empowers the spirit to blossom along what may often seem a stairway of thorns. The path is steep. But the skies are watered with grace.

If by my wish my friend could see past the thorns to the rose, I would light a million candles and blow, blow, blow.

Canterbury Bell--An Unforgettable Song
For an entire season I waited, often wondering if I had not planted the Canterbury bells at all but tricky weeds. The stalks grew, stayed green despite the coldest nights. They put on height. The Dutch irises released their blue butterfly blooms. My snapdragons emerged and waned. My roses unfolded and blushed. Still, the Canterbury bells refrained from ringing.

Just before Easter a thickening began. Little green bumps appeared on the stalks. Green slowly thinned away to a soft purple tide. Rain fell for three solid days. The sun rolled over and slept. A piercing wind flailed the swaying stalks.

Unexpectedly, a white sun appeared, upstaging the mocking clouds. The storm fizzled and cleared. The Canterbury bells burst from the green stalks, tolling with purple peals.

Even still, my garden remembers their song.
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