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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7)
The Rowan Hospice & Palliative Care team is a treasured gift from God to my great-aunt and, by extension, to her caregivers. We value each and every way the organization serves her – each team member plays a compassionate and pivotal role in her care, but it is during that monthly session with the organization’s music therapist that I most clearly see the gentleness of yesterday return to the 85 year-old face that I’ve known and loved for years.
To any fly who happens to be cruising the wall during one of these sessions, it probably looks like a pretty routine visit…in a Partridge Family sort of way, I suppose. My great-aunt randomly names songs – mostly the beautiful hymns that defined the childhoods of both our generations and the one between us. And we sing. And she keeps amazingly good rhythm with the tambourine or some other instrument that magically appears from the therapist’s satchel.
The not-so-routine ingredient in this mix – besides the fact that I can’t sing a lick – is that over the past 18 months or so, my great-aunt has become legally blind. Most of her hearing is gone as well. So I’ve often wondered at the fact that, at some point during every single session, she names In the Garden, the hymn with lyrics penned in 1913 by Charles A. Miles.
As I sat by her side yesterday and listened while her aged voice complimented the beautiful voice of the therapist, a new understanding poignantly tugged at my heart and left a lump in my throat so intrusive th at I had to stop singing mid-verse.
Why does this song paint such a picture of soft joy and beauty across her face? Because she talks with God; I know for fact that she does. And when she does, Christ meets her in a garden all their own. And make no mistake:
She is not confined to a wheelchair there…He walks with her.
She does not struggle to hear or wonder if she’s being heard there…He talks with her.
She never stares into infinite darkness there, or feels for a guiding hand…He shows her the breathtaking beauty of the dew that is still on the roses.
The exciting news is that every child of God can gain access to his or her own personal garden like the one described in the lyrics below, and like the one my great-aunt visits. When we cultivate our garden’s soil through a life of active prayer and worship, we learn to hear and respond to the Voice that’s so sweet the birds hush their singing.
In the Garden
Lyrics by Charles A. Miles, 1913
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.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.
Conclude Day 6 by reflecting on the lyrics of Miles’ hymn and how they speak to you right where you are today. Consider what goals, if any, you might set for cultivating a spiritual garden that bears the fruit of Philippians 4:6-7 (listed above), then document your PRAYER conversation for today in light of your reflection.       
Please see Day 1 of the series for suggested content regarding the PRAYER conversation associated with this series.
Praise and Thanksgiving:
Copyright 2017 Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.