"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

St. Helen’s Quiet Garden – Summer Devotional 2021

Since some ancient soul first noticed that moment, when the sun seemed to stand still, and daylight hours moved into slow motion, the summer solstice was understood as a time of arising transcendent energy and spiritual awakening.  For us, God’s ‘frozen chosen’, it also heralds a couple of months of comparative warmth and sometimes, relaxation.

Recent weeks and months have been so very difficult.  News reports from around the world, and here in Canada, have been heart-breaking, disturbing, and perhaps overwhelming.  The desire to respond, appropriately, is strong but every thought, every act, even every prayer seems small in the face of the harsh realities. We are also still struggling to ‘get a handle’ on the pandemic and the uncertainty about what the future will look like remains.  Individuals and families are still faced with complicated stresses, with physical and mental health challenges, relationship breakdowns, disappointments and major decisions, even as we all anticipate a better day.

The earth, fair to bursting with new growth, and garbed in the infinite palette of the colours of God’s creation, extends an invitation to all creatures great and small:  Take a deep breath. Take a breath as though it is your first one and let it out slowly.  Stop and ‘smell the roses’ (or peonies!)  Spend time outdoors.  Even a minute of intentional awareness provides a rich sensory experience and, perhaps, if we are open to it, the gentle blessing of the assurance of God’s presence.

Our Quiet Garden at St. Helen’s and its ichthys path, encircled, as it is, with tributes to loved ones, has clearly become exactly the outreach ministry  we hoped for when it was envisioned. Many, many people of all ages, within the community, come to walk daily, alone and in twos and threes, to enjoy the riotous results of our ‘green thumbs’ skills and to pause, resting, on a garden bench. These moments do not take away all of the pain, or grief, all of the devastation or helplessness, or indeed all of the anxiety of this age, but they have the potential to bring God’s hallowing peace to God’s beloved children yearning for it.  Thanks be to God!