Some people travel and bring home mugs from places they visit. Some choose T-shirts or baseball caps, books or pictures. I choose and bring rocks. Yes, rocks.
On our recent trip to Erin and Luke's, I had my eye on some lovely pieces of slate that littered the perimeters of the barn and pastures - slate that was uncovered in the clearing and leveling of the land when the barn was built. Just the thing for a garden path. When I saw it, I started dreaming about my garden path. With this slate, my garden path could connect me to Erin and Luke, to the farm and the mountains, to people and places I love. My path could be not just a walk from the bottom of the steps to the end of the rock lined raised bed, but a path of the heart, taking me along every hand-picked stepping stone to thoughts of my dear ones far away.
I got permission to pick up some slate and just smiled at the teasing of family members who wondered at my rock collecting. "You brought ALL THAT all the way from NEW YORK??" "Yep," I replied with purpose.
Well, after the Goudas kiddos left on Monday, Andrew, Joel, and I got to work on the path. I selected and placed stones, Andrew dug out spots in the clay soil so they could nestle securely, and Joel brought load after load of mulch for filler.
Now because a path needs a stopping place along the way and because garden design calls for focal points, I grouped some of the stones midway. Then, I brought the rusty old green metal chair and placed it just beside the stones. Yes, I know that chair needs some loving attention. My parents gave it to me a couple of years ago - at one time it belonged to my grandmother, Mom. One of these days I will look in the yellow pages and find someone who can sandblast it so I can repaint it. Maybe...or maybe not. That old rusty chair makes me stop along Erin and Luke's stone path and think about Mom. She was the one who always had plants, who loved her garden, and who, I think, is the one most responsible for passing on this love of plants to me. So, I may just leave it as it is. It says, "Mom, old, remember." It is a good place to stop and sit in thankfulness for the blessing of family, living and dead; to ponder heritage and legacy; to breathe in the sweet scent of honeysuckle and rosemary and offer a prayer of gratitude for a grandmother who loved God and people, far more than she loved plants, and to ask for the privilege of passing on such love to my own dear daughter.
The reality of my new garden path has far exceeded what I dreamed it would be when I was picking up pieces of slate that misty, cool day in New York a few weeks back. I am very happy with our work of Monday evening. This path beckons me to walk, then stop, sit, and focus. When I do, I feel very thankful for tangibles like rocks and chairs that are for me links to intangibles. I see the slate stepping stones and think of Erin. I sit in the chair and think of Mom.
I am praying that God will use the occasion of making this path, of thinking about stopping places and focal points to remind me to stop and rest in Him; praying that He will continue to sharpen and focus my spiritual eyes that look at the visible and tangible, and see beyond to the realities of life in Him, discernible only by faith.