There are places in our lives that seem to have a special meaning or purpose and its there that some things happen quite spontaneously or there that we go to do things because that place makes it easier somehow.
My sister’s back garden is one of those places for me. Some of you reading this across the pond call it the yard. Whatever you call that place my sister’s back garden is a very special place. I only realised how special it was today. My sister and her husband have lived in that house for twenty eight years and the garden has always been an extension of the house.
It is a sheltered spot and gets plenty of sunshine most of the day round. It has changed shape and evolved over the years. My brother in law has re-invented it many times with much love and patience. Beloved family pets lie buried under shrubs. Trees have grown taller along with the children who have grown up here. My sister and I have sat long into the evening talking about our lives, our family, our children, our hopes and dreams, heartaches and sorrows.
Something about the space invites intimacy, gives a feeling of safety, security, of relaxed conversation. We have shared major news of dramatic life events and the ordinary everyday things that permeate every life. We have lived, laughed, loved and cried here, shared barbecues, parties in the sun and the rain, spring and summer, paddling pools and sandpits, playhouses and bicycles.
Most recently as many readers know we have lost our lovely Amy, my sister’s only daughter who died so suddenly. But today as we sat in the late afternoon sunshine with her two gorgeous boys, playing happily with their grandad and their aunty, I really sensed continuity, those continuing bonds that death can never change.
I vividly remember a difficult time in my life when I hadn’t been able to share a deep heartbreak with anyone. Amy saw me sitting alone on the swing and just sat beside me and asked me what was wrong. Suddenly in the safe space we shared I was able to open up to her and begin the lifting of my burden. I will always be grateful for her gentle support then, giving me the courage to bring to the light the troubles I was hiding. That was a gift she had. The evening birdsong and sunshine and her warmth and empathy was a lifesaver.
So I love this garden, its not mine but I feel it is a focal point of all our lives. The children and the dog wander in and out, we sit and drink tea, put the world to rights and just enjoy each other’s company. Everything in the garden isn’t always lovely but the garden is a place of sanctuary, a place of healing, a place of peace and it is precious.
We continue to support each other in this time and have the incredibly generous support of our village community and the online community that is such a feature of twenty first century living. There is a saying that one is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth. It was in a garden that God’s own heart was broken as He watched His only Son struggle with what lay ahead. It was also in the garden that the glory of Easter shone through the dawn and gave mankind hope for the first time that death was not the end of everything.
Our lives have been changed forever and somehow we will keep on living and loving and yes laughing. When we’re in the garden we hear the echoes of our loved ones with us still so vividly in heart and mind and memory, lost only from sight, only for a season. This garden will continue to hold all our special memories and is set for its greatest transformation yet, meanwhile the dog runs in an out, the children carry on playing, everything in the garden ….