When I had to move into a new apartment complex, I thought I would be giving up the large backyard that I enjoyed in my previous home. My first visit was a day when the temperature was 117 degrees, and I didn’t go outside. I looked out the window and saw what appeared to be a small well-kept yard with a pretty pond, and I was happy to have that.
After I moved in, it took me a few days to get organized enough to go outside. I was happily surprised to discover that the sidewalk continued around the large clump of trees, bushes, and undergrowth that I thought was the end of the property. The yard continued … but it was no longer the manicured lawn and trees. Here was a gully along one edge of the property that is left in the wild state. Nothing is trimmed or cleaned up or changed into man’s image of what it should look like. It is left just the way God created it.
I started going out into the yard almost every day early to midmorning. Even when it very hot, there’s usually a nice breeze, making it a comfortable spot to sit. After a few days of this, I realized this is a wonderful place to do my morning prayer. I have always wanted a prayer closet, a special place dedicated to prayer. But I’ve never had the luxury of having that space. I pray briefly in my bed before I get up in the morning and before I go to sleep at night. However, I’ve done Morning Prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer at my computer. I ‘ve written before about how much I enjoy listening to the Cradle of Prayer, with a priest reading his part and a cantor singing and making congregational responses.
There a small seating area on the backside of the yard. Looking behind you, you see the large clump of trees that marks the end of the manicured yard. The bench faces the wilderness area. Of course, I don’t sit on the bench; I stay in my power wheelchair. I sit facing what I call the wilderness as I play the Cradle of Prayer recordings and respond with the cantor. Occasionally someone walks by with a dog; we say, “Good morning,” and she and the dog pass on by.
So now my prayer closet is outside, facing God’s handiwork. There are few flowers in this jungle of trees, bushes, and undergrowth. However, there is a bush that has dainty, delicate purple flowers. I look daily, but rarely see a blossom, but it’s a real treat when I do. Occasionally, I am greeted by a large, vibrant sunflower. I don’t even mind the dead branches and dried leaves, because that is the cycle of life that God created. I enjoy sitting in the other side of the yard, also, with lawns, trimmed bushes and trees, and well-maintained flower beds. But I feel closer to God when I’m sitting among His wild creation.
I’m reminded of the old Gospel song “In the Garden.” While the yard is not exactly a garden, and I am not necessarily completely alone, I feel like I’m alone with the Lord in a beautiful setting.
Thank You, Lord, for quiet time with You. Help me to focus on You and worship and praise You in every minute. You are worthy of all honor, praise, and glory. Let my worship and meditations make me a better follower of You and bring You glory. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.