It was on a warm July day when Julia decided that she would take a long walk in a nearby park. As she looked out her bay window she noticed that the sky was unusually blue and the clouds,puffy and white and just looking at them gave her a confidence and happiness she hadn’t felt in years.
With her dog Laddie by her side and wearing the coolest clothes she could find—a white cotton blouse and slacks of the same color and shoes that were comfortable--she walked out of her small apartment and began walking.
The cool summer breeze refreshed and made her feel young again. She noticed, too, that Laddie was enjoying the fresh air and was acting much younger than his seven years. As they walked along, Laddie began pulling on the leash. The farther they went, the stronger the pull.
As they approached a fork in the path Julia saw something move in the bushes, no farther than twenty feet from her. She pulled on the leash and told Laddie to stop and then sit.
They stood there on the path and waited. She couldn’t see anything but felt certain that something or someone was in the bushes. She guided Laddie to the right and continued walking, being watchful of anything unusual.
After awhile she forgot about the ‘movement’ in the bushes and began enjoying the beauty around her. Wild flowers, bushes over-flowing with colors of red, gold, white and yellow dazzled her eyes. She hadn’t seen trees so lush in color; it was a sight that brought her great joy and peace for the last few months had been stressful, assisting her elderly mother, struggling with Alzheimer’s, while at the same time, working hard for Simmons and Bandora, a local attorney business.
To see her mother who was once vibrant with life, involved in her children’s and husband’s lives and eager for each day to begin; and now seeing her struggle with daily issues of bathing, walking and reading, such memories were heavy with sadness and at times, seemed too much. But looking at the beauty around her, she felt the sorrows lift away, like warm tea, evaporating into cool, refreshing air.
Minutes later they came to a kind of garden. It was beautiful, with all kinds of flowers and a fenced in garden that contained tomatoes, lettuce and small rows of onions and such. The fragrance was heavenly; so she and Laddie paused and allowed the aroma to lift her spiritually and emotionally.
Laddie sat quietly but seconds later became alert, tilting his head toward the corner of the garden, where his eyes became more focused and in a searching mode, as if sensing some kind of danger or difference in atmosphere. His alertness startled Maria and she, too, looked toward the corner of the garden and saw something that surprised but also uplifted her.
At the very corner of the garden she saw a man who was dressed as an old fashioned gardener, much like that of the early seventeenth century. He was working diligently with the garden, almost the way someone would act if caring for someone who needed special care.
He looked up at her, smiled and said, “Good Morning, Miss. How are you this fine morning?”
“Well, thank you! And how are you?”
“I’m tending to my garden and I couldn’t be happier. The good Lord has given me this job and I intend to do my best! What a blessing it is to be alive, isn’t it?”
Julia nodded and replied, “Yes, it is. Good to see you this morning. Take good care!”
As she walked away she thought about her stressful job and the many struggles she was going through, helping her mother. Quietly she murmured, “I’m going to look at my life with different eyes and a kinder heart. I’m going to do my best for God and I will do what I can to help Mom. I see now that God has given me these things to do, so I will seek out ways to make things better. And, I will take more time for myself like this lovely walk, for that will strengthen me for what lies ahead. Thank you God for opening my mind and my heart to your love and help!”
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