There is a secret garden far away with clear water flowing over smooth stones into a small pond. Today I saw a moment of video from the garden, because the gardener shared it online. I’d seen still images of the place before, but I hadn’t listened to it. Today I heard water singing and dancing over stones, and I breathed deeply and enjoyed the moment of peace. Then, right in the middle of my moment, I heard the evidence that not everyone has a peaceful place to be: I heard sirens wailing in the near distance.
This garden, you see, is not in the remote countryside, where only the gardener, God, and His insentient creation can hear the music of the water. It is not in an ancient holy site blessed by centuries of spiritual reflection. It is not on the grounds of a church or a monastery or an abbey. The garden is in a city full of His beloved, souls who are made in His image, fallen from grace and struggling along to somewhere, mostly unaware that there's even a better somewhere to be. It is a place of stillness in the middle of commotion.
I’m full of puzzles, and here was one for today: I smiled when I heard the sirens. It made me smile to know of the gardener being there, actively, intentionally inhabiting a peaceful place. The smile broadened as I realized we are called to be a peaceful place, and that we get to be that no matter where we are, even in a busy, hurting, noisy, unsettling place.
I believe we all can find such peace if we focus properly. “Be still and know that I am God,” He said in Psalm 46:10. That wasn't a sometimes-when-you-feel-like-it good idea way back when. That's a lifestyle choice right now. In the middle of a city, even in that very emergency vehicle we heard, we are able to pay attention, to choose to believe that God is, that He is good, that all things have a purpose, that this moment is all we have so we may as well love in it, rejoice in it, bless in it. When we do that, we’re all secret gardeners. We create space to enjoy peace ourselves, but we are actively, intentionally involved in being a peaceful place, sharing ourselves (and Himself) with all who are willing to sit and abide and receive.
I think even God Himself smiles at secret gardens like that.