One day some years ago, I got locked out of the house—for the whole day! The day was warm—a truly rare spring moment. By 5:30 a.m. I was in the yard, raking leaves and fallen twigs off the garden beds. For a dedicated gardener, after a long winter, this can create a state of total absorption (dare I say bliss?).
I had originally doled out to myself two or three hours of labor before I went to work on the writing project assigned for the day, but at 9:00, when I went to wash my hands and clean up, I discovered that one of my housemates, the last one out the door (adult son or husband) had left for work, tightly locked up, and with no thought for the fact that I was tucked blissfully into the back garden. I was abandoned in the world with no keys, no cell phone, my hair wild, my jeans smeared with mud and clogs clotted with clods of earth.
The neighbor next door was gone, same for the one in back. I decided to walk to my son and daughter-in-law’s house about one mile away. It was a great day for walking, although my garden clogs were not designed for trekking, and when I arrived at their house, I discovered they were not a home. The whole world in West Chicago, Illinois appeared to have been seduced outside by the wondrous (70-something degree) weather. So, I waited a little—just in case they showed up—then turned around and walked back to my own yard.
Suddenly, it struck me: Maybe the very best way I could step in harmony with God, who is, after all, the Master Gardener, would be to submit to reality and just spend the whole day outside, putting as much in order as my energy would allow and my muscles could stand.
Consequently, I enjoyed an absolutely wondrous gardening day and got a huge head start on spring chores. Nine beds were raked, hoed, weeded, cultivated and trenched; garbage pails of leaves were dumped in the woods for compost. And as far as my own comforts—I had taken two Aleve tablets before stepping outside, and there were bottles of water in the garage, as well as the woods nearby for any emergency physical contingencies. I simply needed to devote myself wholly to this unexpected set of circumstances.
Sometimes (have you discovered this?) God does for us what we will not do for ourselves. One of the daily ways I note his intervention is to find Him through any unexpected evidences of his care for me. Can you picture this scenario? The God of the Universe says, “Oh, it’s going to be a remarkable gardening day in the Chicagoland area! Let’s lock all the gardeners outside (including Karen) so they can have a perfectly happy day without feeling guilty.” Then I can hear all this chuckling and laughter in Heaven. What a divine joke! God gave me, at least, the very thing I wanted most and would not have given to myself. He locked me out.
Sometimes we are so earnest, so locked into schedules and events and appointments and responsibilities, we don’t take time to dance. We can’t find moments to waltz. God is planning this little improvisational moment in our lives, but He can’t get our attention. Is He locking you out of anything? Does He have something else in mind for your day, your season of life, your years ahead? Do you think?
Other projects involving Karen right now are: Working with teams of Christian women to design Retreats of Silence, in both 24-hours and three-days formats, through the aegis of Hungry Souls. Developing hospitality initiatives that train Christian men and women how to use their own homes in caring outreaches through the Open Heart, Open Home ministries. Launching the Global Bag Project, a worldwide effort that markets sustainable cloth shopping bags to provide sustainable incomes for bag-makers in developing nations. Researching the impact of listening groups while overseeing some 240 small groups over the last three years. Experimenting with teleconference mentoring for Wannabe (Better) Writers. Designing the Tales of the Kingdom Web site.