A garden of lessons

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

After the barren New England winter, it's wonderful to come downstairs the first thing in the morning and open the front door to see the gardens waiting in the sunshine.

There is always something new happening, and I see every blossom as a gift from God, the glorious Creator of all. A gardener is a witness to this creation, clearing away the weeds and preparing the soil to nurture the tiny seed, so full of promise.

For many years my sister and I had a plant business at my old farmhouse. Our mission was to help anyone who wanted a garden to be able to have one.

When my husband and I first moved in, the gardens had been untended for decades. As we cut through the wild honeysuckle and brambles and raked away the dead leaves, we discovered hidden treasures blooming and bringing their message - against all odds.

Flowers speak to me of God. All through my life flowers have been a great source of inspiration, a confirmation that beauty, peace, and harmony are real and lasting. A garden is a symbol of persistent joy. I've sought solace in my gardens when I've faced tough times.

At one point while we had our business, my teenage son was going through a difficult time, my marriage seemed to be falling apart, and my parents passed on.

There were times in the middle of the night when I was very depressed. I felt as if I were hanging by a thread over a dark pit. I knew that the thread that kept me from falling was my knowledge that God loved me.

In the morning I would go into the garden to find peace, and I would be reminded that joy is perennial. As the daisies and sunflowers lifted their faces to the sun, I, too, could lift my heart to the light that is God.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, expressed the spiritual nature of flowers in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," when she wrote, "The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity." She continued: "Suns and planets teach grand lessons. The stars make night beautiful, and the leaflet turns naturally towards the light" (p. 240).

As I prayed to gain a deeper understanding of God, I reached the transcendent truth that in God's view there is no pit - no place my son or I could go where God would not be present. His ever- present love and light fill every little corner of everywhere, and He holds each one of us tenderly in this love.

One day in May, as I was talking to a plant customer, my son piled his belongings into the back of a friend's truck and left home. I couldn't stop him. He had dropped out of school a few weeks before, and he seemed to be headed down a dangerous path. With a leaden heart, I watched him go.

As I went on my daily walks around the garden, I would look at the lupins and the blue harebells spreading out into the field, the mass of red oriental poppies before the old gray barn, and the yellow lemon lilies and moss roses blooming beneath the wall, and I was always uplifted. My thought was brought back to God's love for all creation.

I clung to the unchanging truth that God is loving, guiding, and caring for each one of us every moment - no matter what the circumstances. I knew that my son really belonged to his Father-Mother God and that God would never give up on His child. The Bible tells us that each of us is created in the image of God; that means whole, harmonious, and good. Through the weeks that followed, I persistently claimed this as the only reality for my son and for everyone.

After two months, he came home. With lots of love and prayers, gradually the weeds fell away, and he blossomed into a fine man with a peaceful, gentle heart. He is also an excellent gardener.

I have learned that our lives, as well as our flower beds, can be gardens of persistent joy.

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