Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

A Walk in the Garden

Judith Walter


Today is a perfect day for visiting the gardens. It is in the mid sixties, the sun is bright, the air is crisp, and the sky is vivid blue splattered with slightly out of focus white clouds. I come alone. Sometimes I interact with people around me and often I choose solitude as my companion.

I make a point of being attentive as I walk through the gardens. I observe not only the plant life, but also the birds, insects, light and shadow and textures. These things teach me lessons while I am here. They teach about balance, rhythm, ebb and flow, withdrawal and rest alternating with growth and movement. Perhaps my needs determine the lessons or perhaps it is God meeting me at my point of need.

Today I am in the Japanese Garden. I crunch down the gravel-laden pathway and enter the avenue of bamboo. The gentle rustling of the canes is like a mantra. I hear the message--slow down, be quiet, breath deeply, thank God. My steps slow through this mysterious walkway. The bamboo draws my attention upward. I wonder if that is the reason it is here--to make me look upward. The low pitched sounds help me pull inside myself and become centered within. As I leave the shaded walkway, I enter the sunlight again. The warmth feels good on my face and my eyes are drawn even further upward to look at the sky. There are clouds drifting quickly, all in a row, toward the sunlight. One lone thunderhead peeps over the horizon. My prayer is formed. God, keep me focused on the sunlight and moving toward the warmth and the light. Help me not focus on the dark cloud on the horizon. Keep me moving toward the sun.

I sit in the pavilion for a while. The simplicity of this garden is like a balm to my spirit. I take time to enjoy just being. Quiet, alone, surrounded by order and beauty. I breathe deeply. My muscles relax. When I rise to continue my walk, I move more slowly. I carry the aura of the garden with me.

Halfway up the hill, I sit to rest on a bench. Here I can watch the birds flitting about and hear them--singing, chirping, talking to each other. I hear the rustle of leaves as the wind blows and critters scurry under the shrubs and plants. Tinges of autumn colors tell me the trees are tuning up for their autumn symphony.

A young couple comes toward me from up the hill. They walk hand in hand, pointing out plants to each other. Their love and happiness are obvious. When I visit the gardens, I spend some time wondering about the people around me. What is their story? What do they think is the story of the gray-haired lady resting on the bench? Do they notice me at all? I often feel invisible to the rest of the world.
As they approach, they smile and say good morning. Yea! I am not invisible.

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Judith Walter resides in Franklin, Tennessee, where she is an active member of the Council for the Written Word and participates in the critique group sponsored by this writers' organization.   She writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. 

© Judith Walter

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012