The late day Irish sun slowly descended behind the gray misty sky. Our large group had dwindled to four steadfast souls willing to take the full day tour despite the rainy afternoon weather. As the mini-bus ascended the hill where the Victorian Gardens lay, we peeked through the grand stone entrance to gaze upon the brilliant, hidden treasure which awaited us beyond the gates.
Planted over 150 years ago, the Walled Victorian Gardens at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland are a masterpiece in ingenuity and design. Originally planned to support the Henry family who lived on the vast estate, the Gardens were lauded for being “so advanced for the time.” Over the years, they fell into disarray, but were thankfully refurbished in the early 1990s. The genius and vision of Mr. Henry could not be buried forever – God’s beauty has a way of finding us again.
On a recent winter walk in my hometown, I was reminded of these Gardens. The trail I was walking on was sparse and dead from the cold weather and I missed the beauty of the Gardens in December. I thought about how amazing it was that the unique winter plantings and geometric designs coupled with the raw landscape of the area could still produce such simple beauty. The seeds which were planted in the Gardens years ago must have been strong and deliberately planned thus they’ve born much fruit over many years. I think the seeds we plant in life are a lot like this too.
A dear friend once shared “don’t worry, your job is to plant the seeds (of faith, love, hope, etc.) and trust that God will do the rest.” I didn’t quite understand him at first because I have always been a control person. I have only learned through failure that I am never really in control. Over time I came to understand his advice as truly wise! God has shown me that I should do my part – plant the seeds – and he will do his part – water them and help them grow. It was actually quite liberating when I realized that I didn’t have to be responsible for every detail in this life. For example, with my current back injury, I have worked very hard to find physical healing and up to this point it has not happened. Through the process, I have grown and learned many things about myself. In fact, I would say that I am a better person today than I was six years ago. I’ve learned the value of prayer, patience, humility, hope and total abandonment to the will of God. I have planted many seeds in my journey toward wellness and God has watered the seeds in his way. Despite my daily pain and unknown future, I do trust that I am where I am supposed to be…for now. God has shown me that today is all I need to think about. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:7 “I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, But God gave growth. In this, neither the planter nor the waterer counts for anything; only God, who gives growth.” These lines from scripture confirm what my faithful friend shared so many years ago; trust in God once you’ve planted the seeds in your life. I’ll admit that it is a hard thing to do but it’s the only way to achieve lasting happiness in this life.
Thinking back to the Gardens at Kylemore Abbey, I am sure they’ve lasted all these years because God is the Master Gardener. These beautiful gardens are a good reminder for all of us to plant strong seeds in our lives, then let go and surrender everything to the One who loves us and creates authentic, lasting beauty forever.
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