Sunday, September 28, 2014

Finding Gardens in Unexpected Places *

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” 
     ----Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

I was hoping I’d be able to physically handle a ride via a DART  (Dial a Ride Transport ) bus to downtown Seattle, usually a twenty to thirty  minute drive during non-rush hour traffic from where I live. 

Stops and starts, unexpected turns, and wide scopes of peripheral vision compromise my vertigo condition pretty fast if I am not grounded and doing the driving. 

Nonetheless, a dear friend had invited me out to lunch and wanted to try out the DART bus. She had signed up for this service should she need it.

The hospital where she was undergoing extensive chemotherapy treatments post her ovarian cancer surgery, was featuring an offer - an offer too good to refuse. 

Professional photographers were donating their time and talents over the course of  two days, a time to pamper cancer patients. They’d experience the joy of an attentive team for a portrait sitting. 

The outcome would be a treasured image to cherish.

I had been accompanying my friend to some of her treatments, but this was to be a day of fun. I took my camera to photograph her through the process leading up to her completed portrait. 

First, we had to get to Seattle via the DART bus ride! 

There were other riders to pick up. Bus drivers patiently offered help to those needing assistance getting onto the bus and settled inside. After many twists-twisted, turns navigated, speed bumps bumped and others taken to their destinations, we arrived at ours two hours from the time we stepped onto the bus.

So when did I notice a garden?  

The awareness came slowly as I had been very focused on my own body’s needs, the time with my friend,  and the interactions on the bus. It took my soul a while to recognize the blooms God wanted me to see. That recognition came as I was reflecting a few days after the bus ride.

Here is what emerged! 

With each stop the bus made, a woman brought herself and parts of her life story along with her as she came inside the vehicle. On this particular day, only women were passengers on our buses. 

S. came on her scooter, unable to walk even a few steps without her oxygen. She was going to town to shop at some bargain stores. 

D. arrived in her wheelchair, sporting an artificial leg, an outgoing and cheerful spirit, and was able to transfer to a regular seat on the bus. She was grateful and bubbled over sharing with us her anticipation of soon getting to a specialized yoga class that helps her stay limber. She lives with MS and other neurological challenges.

The bus,  still bumping and twisting along,  was filled with the chatter of these women, wanting to know what my friend and I  were up to and where we were going. 

One by one, after stories were shared, each got dropped off at her destination. 

When our time in town was completed, my friend and I  were delighted to have S. and D. both get back on the same bus during our return trip home.  

Joys were expressed. 

S. showed us the special bargain outfit she got for summer wear. D. was so appreciative of the relaxation and care she had received at her yoga class.  We arrived at a church in north Seattle and welcomed N. who was able to transfer to a bus seat once she and her wheelchair were on board.

She had come about as far geographically as my friend and I had come, to attend a social support group. She was abuzz telling of the fun her group had experienced. 

Blind since birth and dealing with cerebral palsy, N. had a smile that lit up the already sunny day. She told me that she lived in an adult home. 

I asked her if she had made close friends there. She said that she had only one close friend as the other residents were unable to communicate clearly. I realized she had come to where some joy was present, where support and friendship was a given. 

I hugged her as she went to the transfer bus, wondering if she ever got hugs and knowing that she could not see me beaming at her and her tenacity.

I had not expected a garden to show up in a bus!

But the fruits of the Holy Spirit unfolded right before my eyes: 
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, 
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 
(Galatians 5:22-23) 

The garden emerged as I saw women choosing to thrive where they found themselves, using the means they could to get out, to socialize, to meet their challenges with a gusto that left me -  less encumbered - humbly inspired. 

Bus drivers were patient with the logistics of getting the riders onto the bus. 

I observed my friend, courageously confronting cancer with faith and fervor.

S. took in breaths with the help of an oxygen tank and exhaled an acceptance of where life has brought her.

N., having never seen a sunny sky, gave off beams via her beautiful smile that would rival any sunflower.

 D.,  apologized  that she was not good with names yet remembered what had been said during the morning ride and wanted to know all about our individual experiences of the day. 

This garden was alive!

Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase of the Bible, describes my experience this way.

“God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. . . . Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits” (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 The Message).

I had not expected a garden to show up in a bus,  
but it showed up nonetheless and its fragrance lingers! 

* revised from an earlier posting


  1. Lynn, this beautifully poetic post was like receiving a bouquet of fragrant flowers.
    Your beautiful spirit is always looking for beauty even in unexpected places like this bus !
    Reading this post I had a sense of God's joy as you observed each character and found something beautiful in them,

    1. Mary - so glad you stopped by and found "my garden" and took a wander through it.

      It was quite an experience for me to discover it myself. First I was so entrenched in the experience that it was some days later God brought all the pieces together of what had really happened. Like most seeds that bring blooms later - He gave me the seeds and some time to let it all germinate.

      It was, indeed, quite a bus ride - but the garden is what remains.

  2. This is beautiful Lynn - I remember you sharing about this before, but I'm enjoying the fragrance once again.
    How true that each person "brought herself and parts of her life story along with her" - as we all do, but we don't always "see" or care enough to be looking.

    I agree about the "sense of God's joy" Mary mentioned!

    1. Fiona, I enjoyed revising this and re- formatting it as it seemed easier to read and highlight some sections for emphasis.

      I truly relived that time in doing this and it blessed me all over again.

      I need reminders to “see” better during the everyday times that often rush by without my attention.

  3. Wow!!!! This spoke to me in such a special way! What a VERY beautiful garden indeed & what a gift for you to enjoy & then share with us. God is good! Lotsoluv Kerryn

    1. It was a beautiful garden, Kerryn - so glad you appreciated reading of my experience.

  4. This brought tears to my eyes. Each woman, with her challenges, bringing forth the beauty and fragrance of flowers in a garden. I pray I will do the same wherever I go. Thank you for this beautiful piece, Sis.

    1. And each of us do have our challenges - yet strengthened by the One whose image we hope to bear, we will be parts of His garden if we stay grafted into the Vine “from which his fragrance flows”. 

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts ( and feelings ), Sis.


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