Words of Hope — Creating Your Own Secret Garden

I have felt fairly bereft with dad’s passing, so I have decided to set a daily intention, something he would encourage me to consider for the day. I chose Secret Garden the first morning because I witnessed firsthand how this daily discipline brought him deep comfort as he navigated death. It is also his first call to action in his Words of Hope book. To be candid, even though we talked about a secret garden, I didn’t have an intentionally imagined garden I went to consistently for time with God. I have numerous images but not a solidified place in my mind. Secret garden conjured up childhood memories of Francis Hodge’s book and seemed a bit too unrealistic and unnecessary.

However, now that I know dad had a real place where he met with God, I am more interested in creating this intentional sacred space. I want there to be flowers because dad loves flowers, and I see such beauty in the rose, dahlia, shooting star lily, lavender, sunflower, marigolds, and gaillardia. I also love mountains and water. Probably the image that stands out the most concretely right now is the image of holding my dad’s hand. I know he would like to sit with me in the garden at least for a little while, and then I know that solitude with just God is what brings me the most peace and joy. In that solitude, I can empty myself of daily expectations, concerns, and nagging deadlines to stop and be loved and love God.

I use a physical image of Duncan gardens or the picture in my office as a guide for this mediation. I already feel its immediate effect because my mind is speedy and races to add more images, more ideas, which brings in rabbit trails of distraction. The discipline to breathe slowly, bow often, listen wholeheartedly and be still heals me.

Dad and I used to sing this hymn together, and it seems a fitting one to sing in my secret garden. “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”

“And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” – Isaiah 58:11