*talk of church so if this is triggering due to abuse please note the topic.
Today I went to a prayer garden. I know I have been there before but I don’t really remember much about it. Something about this place makes me feel close to God.
19 years ago I went to this church. There was no prayer garden there at the time. I loved the minister. He was in his 90’s and when I listened to him it was as if God was speaking directly to me. I adored this man. As he got older, he and his wife developed health problems. My daughter, who was 2 at the time, and I would go to their house once a week and help them clean. My daughter had a little dust cloth and I would vacuum. They insisted on paying me and refused to accept no. I just put the money back into the offering each Sunday. I wanted to do something kind without payment but I respected their need to make me feel like my time was worth something to be paid for. They appreciated me.
I remember my daughter going on Easter egg hunts at the church on Easter weekend.
The pastor passed away. His wife was in hospice when I was a hospice chaplain and so I visited her.
After they left the church we didn’t stay much longer. I searched for different churches that allowed me to feel a closeness to God but I never found one.
My daughter sang at a concert once years later at a church. After she sang I noticed a place to kneel and pray at the front of the church and after everyone left I prayed there.
I went to many funerals of many hospice patients at many different places of worship. Half of me is Jewish blood running through my veins. I have felt the presence of God in the synagogue. I have felt God in my room, in the room of a hospice patient dying, in the room of a little girl with cancer fighting for her life.
I know, through working as a chaplain, each person has their own spirituality and it is very personal. I have met each person where they are in their own relationship with themself, with God, with religion, or even their lack of religion, lack of faith, or lack of belief in God. I have met them where they are and respected them. I hold no judgment. I never have.
I don’t, at this time, have a desire to go to church. I happen to feel God all around me. That is just me. That is where I am.
But today I was led to the church garden where I used to go to church and where the pastor “spoke” to me.
I walked very slowly and looked at each flower. I smelled the pink rose. I felt the soft white lily. I appreciated the one azalea that had the pink stripe when all the others were just white. I loved that she dared to be different! I took a video of the garden as the wind blew and I closed my eyes and smelled the wind. The moss was blowing in the trees. I sat down next to a white flower and looked up at it from beneath to see the white cross in the background and it seemed to be glowing. It was beautiful. I went to the cross and put my hand on it and simply gave thanks. I gave thanks for all of my many blessings. I cried for the second time in a day. My heart was open and I felt gratitude at the love my heart feels even after all of the harm done to it. I felt in that moment, restored and grateful.