My knees creaked like an old garden gate as I rose from before God’s throne. How many times had I breathed this same petition every day over the past thirty years?
“Please, Lord, draw my children to yourself.”
I placed my hand on my hip and straightened my back. I was growing weary of planting seed in their lives, only to have the harvest fail.
What was it that I’d just read this morning? “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Gal.6:9 (KJV)
“When, Lord, when?” I whispered. “It’s been so long. Do you even hear me anymore?”
I sighed, wagging my head. “I’m sorry, Father, I know you hear me. I know you love them; it’s just…well, I’m so tired.”
I had to get outside – into the light and away from the darkness that weighed on my heart.
I pushed open the wooden screen door and let it slam behind me, greeting a perfect spring day. Pink dianthus perfumed the air with their spicy clove scent as I started my walk. Sunshine played through the canopy of trees, the dappled light dancing on the ground like little fireflies. Yellow pansies smiled at me with their whiskered faces. I smiled back, basking in this labor of love that was my Eden.
Seventeen years ago I had undertaken this bare plot of ground, intent on turning it into a mini paradise. Save for a stretch of weedy grass, a couple of huge shade trees and the young Southern Magnolia that stood off by itself, there wasn’t much. But now, the garden teemed with fruitfulness, thanks to a lot of backbreaking work and Sam’s Garden Center. Not that I minded. I loved the feel of warm dirt sifting through my fingers, knowing that my labor had brought so great a reward.
A lone honeybee buzzed past me on his way to a morning meal. I strolled along the lane, stopping to listen to the fountain splashing into the silvery pond. Shaped like a peasant girl tilting a water jug, the fountain stood at one end. Surrounded by light blue water iris, their height almost obscuring her small stone frame, she guarded her watery domain. I passed by, reminding myself to divide the flowers in the fall.
Everywhere I looked, I saw that my efforts had been compensated. All except for Maggie, the magnolia. (Oh, did I tell you that I named my plants?) She’s grown old now but bears a quiet charm, not like the other beauties in my neighborhood. Where they are majestic, she’s short and squat, her fate having been decided by the pine tree that crashed down on her in a windstorm. And, while the other prima donnas vainly display eight inch waxy cups of fragrance, Maggie stands barren, her branches drooping, as though in shame.
More than once, I thought of putting her out of her misery but I couldn’t do it. There was something about her tenacity. She was a stubborn old girl – like me. Instead, I planted flowers by her feet to keep her company and placed a bench beside her so that I could visit.
I sat on it now, and lowered my head in my hands.
“Why, Lord, haven’t my children turned their hearts to you?”
An inner voice said, “Look up.”
“I am, Lord. You know I trust you…” A single tear dropped to my knee, creating a wet spot on my slacks. I stared at it.
“No. LOOK UP.”
“Huh?” I raised my misty eyes and focused. Before me sat a perfectly formed bud on Maggie’s lowest branch, plump with the promise of life. My heart took a moment to beat. I stood and skimmed her leaves. There were buds everywhere.
I heard the voice again. “You shall reap if you faint not.”
I had urged Maggie to hang on and she had. Against all odds, she had prevailed, stubbornly standing her ground. Now, she was bearing fruit.
“Thank you, Father, for reminding me that you are tenacious, too, and that your promises never fail. I guess I’ll hold on a little longer.”
With renewed hope, I stroked a tender bud on the old tree, tears of joy streaming down my face. When her beauty unfolded, the wait will have been worth it.
“Way to go, Maggie, way to go.”
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