“Gail, remember to tend your garden!”

Shirley is the kind of friend who sends me alerts whenever she discerns I’m forgetting to pause and tend my own personal garden. To give myself permission to slow down and go someplace or do something that allows me to relax, recharge, and reflect. To rest in a way that restores my soul.

Little did I know that my summer project would create a perfect environment to help this happen more frequently.

My well-used white wicker porch set no longer beckoned me outside. My heart longed for some pretty, comfortable, and durable chairs as well as a matching table. Fully expecting an extensive search, the moment I stepped into the patio display of a nearby store, my vision came to life. The high back, glider/swivel chairs, with colorful pillows casually thrown on as a suggestion, as well as the perfect-size glass-top table, screamed “Gail.” The patio sale, that reduced the price by $50, added to the thrill of the find.

A comedy of errors ensued as my neighbor Pam and I placed the huge box in her truck, lugged the individual pieces to my patio, and began assembling the first chair…only to discover the plastic bag containing screws, bolts, and directions was missing. After picking up the crucial bag from the store, our stressful DIY project continued. A little while later I called Stacey, the store manager I now knew on a first-name basis, and explained our predicament. Taking pity on us, she allowed us to bring everything back to the store so they could put it together for us. Patrick, their charming “assembly expert,” loved being our hero.

After carrying the completed set to its designated spot on my porch, and thanking Pam profusely, I released her to tackle her own weekend condo projects. With nothing else pressing to accomplish that day, I prepared my lunch and carried it outside to enjoy my new, colorful oasis.

While slowly gliding back and forth in my comfy chairs, I read my book and listened to the birds chirping. The flourishing fern, displayed in my large, cobalt-blue pot, brushed my soul with delight. Periodically, I drank in the beauty of the pink cypress tree, and flowers and foliage gracing the backyard beyond my enclosed porch. Without realizing it, two hours had passed. Smiling, I declared out loud, “Time stands still out here. I could easily stay all day.”

Inspired, the next day I gave myself another challenge: find the right flowers to plant in my clay pot, which had sat empty way too long. I set off to the perfect garden store. Spying one of the employees watering an extensive array of plants, I dashed over and presented my need. Immediately, she shut off the hose and led me to some small yellow, pink, and orange blossoms, called purslane.

“These flowers will quickly trail out of your pot.” She added, “I’m Debbie, and you can find me here any time.”

After pouring in the potting soil, I arranged the plants diagonally, as Debbie had instructed. Sure enough, even by the next morning they were peeking out of the pot.

To celebrate this fun and relaxing adventure, and the creation of my new getaway, I took my dinner out to the porch that night to grab some more leisure time.

A creative twist from God: the sweet, colorful blossoms close at the end of the day and open again in the morning. Now each day, after pulling back the curtains and stepping on to the porch, I say good morning to my new little friends. Then I peacefully move into a quiet time with my heavenly Father who knows the little pleasures that help me “tend my garden.”

In what ways do you stop and tend your personal garden so you are refreshed, revived and ready to walk back into the various arenas of your life? Sometimes it only takes a pause.

“The music in a song isn’t just the notes.
It’s the space between them.
A song without rests, without timing,
isn’t a song. It isn’t music.” 

John Ruskin