I have asked myself many times, “Why did I build this garden?” This morning is a good example of why, and I didn’t even know it when I started building in 2020.

I woke early, looked out of the window into the darkness of the garden. In the dim light, a few flickering torches still barely held their charge and cast a dim glow in spots along the paths. I checked on my 5-year-old grandson who is staying with us for a couple of weeks. He was fast asleep in the blanket fort in the living room. So, I quietly made my coffee and slipped out into the garden, where the air was fresh in the fog of the darkness.

My grandson and I have deemed a chair in the garden’s corner as The Kings Chair. His toy helmet and knight’s breastplate hang neatly next to the chair, waiting for the next battle in the grass. This is a good place to sit with my coffee and to enjoy the quiet of the morning as the sun slowly lifts the darkness. This peace and tranquility are something everyone should experience and strive for.

The darkness lifted ever so slightly. It is amazing to watch God’s light from the sun overcome the darkness in the world. I couldn’t help but imagine Jesus as he would often retreat to solitary places to pray, simply to talk with the Father. I imagine Jesus in many gardens and what it must have been like. The Garden of Gethsemane was at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus cried out to the Father in the quiet of his morning. Morning in the solitude of the garden is a special time for me as well.

After a short spell sitting in the King’s Chair, enjoying the quiet solitude, I slowly made my way to a small brick plaza in our garden and knelt to pray. God has shown me much about prayer this last year. In the anguish of my prayers for people I know that were in the hospital with their very lives in the balance, I learned to praise for the healing that WAS taking place in their bodies. I praised God for each little step that placed them closer to a continued life. One of my friend’s mothers life gave way to the sickness (as my grandson calls it) and passed on to Heaven. But I recognized her deep love for Jesus and the welcome she was receiving in Heaven as she danced and sang with angels. I praise God for the great impact of the life she lived on the earth. When I pray, I praise God, for he is worthy. Almost two months later and I continue to praise God for each one of my friends. Some are still struggling with the sickness, but most are out of the woods at this point.

I knelt there praying and praising God as the light pushed away the darkness of the early morning. I prayed for many of you by name and for many that I don’t know personally. I praise God in every instance and always give him the glory for the lives that surround mine.

I see solitude as a spiritual gift. I came to recognize that for many people; it is a discipline. Understanding and enjoying solitude is not something many people can enjoy. I guess we can thank our busy culture for some of that. Jesus often went to a place of solitude to talk to the Father and I think I know why. The distractions are few. Peace, quiet, and stillness help bring me to a place I can listen and hear the still small (and sometimes booming) voice of God. Prayer can be a quiet conversation, a rambling journey, and even some disjointed thoughts. God hears them all and enjoys them as much as I love talking with my young grandson. I always get the gist of what he is saying. God does too.

Prayer used to be something I often had to fit in, or something I did at certain appropriate times each day, like before waking up, before meals, as I read Facebook, and before going to sleep. I have found that finding times for solitude enhances my conversations with God. I have learned a lot about prayer and solitude this year.

Well, after praying, the sun had taken over all the darkness, the garden was now full of God’s light. I slipped inside to greet my grandson, who was crawling out of his blanket house. Nana was still asleep, so we didn’t want to wake her. We went outside to the garden to enjoy its morning splendor.

My grandson was pointing out all the beautiful flowers in bloom as we walked from place to place and asked if we could pick some to surprise Nana. It was a great idea, so we took some stems from the yellow Lantana’s, a Cone Flower, a Marigold or two, even a purple Salvia spire, and a bunch of yellow Athena Sun flowers. We tip toed back inside, prepared them for two vases, and wrote a brief note of thanks and letting her know how much we love her. My grandson was giddy over the prospect of her waking and finding our gift in front of the coffee maker. He and I slipped back outside together and prayed to start our day. Soon we saw Nana was awake. She loved the flowers, and we granted her some quiet time as she enjoyed her coffee. She enjoys a little solitude too!

Why did I build this garden? It’s a great place to experience God’s light lifting darkness, it’s a great place to pray, and it’s a great place to play with my grandson, gathering flowers to make Nana’s day! Find some solitude in your life, a place of quiet and peace, a time for reflection, and for thoughtful moments of prayer. It is something we should all learn to do.