In the garden
[Repost. First published on my Wordpress blog May 30 2018.]
I could be writing about the garden outside my sunroom window, the one that is gathering strength after being planted just last summer. Right now the garden is well past the "Nature's first green is gold" growth of Robert Frost's poem -- it is about to burst into bloom and be glorious.
But the garden I write about today is THE Garden ... the Garden of sweat that is blood, of agony, of fearing what is to come. I am deep in this Garden today after beginning, a couple weeks ago, a Bible study that walks through the scripture of the Rosary. The study is from Take Up & Read and is called Ponder, and both of those names are so fitting, because you will, and you do.
I took up and read about the First Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden, and then I was presented with this prompt to ponder:
Think of a time when you wanted to know the end of a story because you were afraid. How did God eventually write the conclusion to that chapter?
Oh, that stopped me. The answer space is still blank, a day or two after I read it, because (as the kids say these days, I think), I just can't. In fact, maybe I can't even.
Because right now I am in the middle of that story. This story started nearly six years ago, when I took the children and left the home I lived in with my husband. Now, somewhere in the middle of it, there is a divorce, but this is hardly the end, and that does make me afraid. How will I, a woman who really only ever planned to adopt a quiet little girl or two, maybe not even to marry, shepherd four noisy, energetic, strong-willed boys to adulthood, largely alone? How will I care for them, without losing myself? With the things I see stacked up against them, will they grow up happy and healthy and knowing that they are loved? And will my dog be my best friend for the rest of my life? (He's cute, but...)
And the plot twist in that scary story was the loss of my job in January. I thought I had arrived at a place of safety, making enough money to support the children and myself alone if need be, with a job that was flexible and largely self-directed, and, even more, a great fit for me. And then suddenly, that was gone, without warning. The aftershocks have been emotional, financial, and relational, and while I now can see the "silver lining" of that particular storm, the fact is that God is still in the process of writing this chapter, and He isn't telling me what the ending is.
I want to know the end of this story. I want to know just what God's plan is to turn all of this sorrow into glory, just as Jesus' agony was turned into the glory of the resurrection. I want to know that my kids will not just be okay, but will thrive. I want to know that my business will succeed beyond what I dare dream. I want to know that this pain is for something bigger and better than I am.
But right now, I don't get to know that ending. There are a million things that can go right, and there are a million things that can go wrong, and I don't know just what's coming. But. What I do have right now are the stories that God has written before mine. Stories of saints, stories of friends, stories of friends of friends, the very story of our Lord and Brother, Jesus Christ, with whom we are now co-heirs of an incomparable glory. (So says the Apostle St Paul in Romans 8.) And the incredible thing is this: As incomplete as my own story is, I know that it has been a story of encouragement to others in their own suffering.
Friends, let's not be afraid of our own sufferings and stories. Whether you are in the Garden with Jesus, or enjoying a springtime of your own like the one happening outside my window, only God knows what is next and what is the saga that He writes. Wherever you are right now, your story is for His glory, because you are loved as His chosen one, and His beloved.
xo, Laura Ruth