Finding health by walking in the garden with God

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on March 23, 2021

Our story is also about walking in the garden with God.

Tall bamboo stalks swayed and filtered the light through the trees as I walked through a path in VanDusen Botanical Garden on the weekend. A sanctuary of trees: red cedars, paperbark maples, all of them reaching to the heavens.

Lately, I have been visiting the gardens’ winding paths to look for new growth. Lenten roses, with the scientific name Helleborus orientalis, are covering a part of the garden in many varieties. I captured photos of floating blooms in a bowl of water on one of my frequent visits. It brings me joy to find such natural beauty, a real vision of God’s creativity.

Walking has become one of my favourite self-care tools in my mental health recovery kit. On lunch breaks I go for short walks in the area around my office. I am lucky to be close to many parks and gardens. I’ve learned that when I move it improves my mood.

On one of my lunch hours in the garden, a Canada goose came up from behind me and honked. Luckily, I had just about finished eating my fettuccine. I packed up and moved out of his way. He may have been hungry, and I had nothing to give him. Listening to the birds calling from the trees around me, I smiled. God cares for us more than a goose, or a sparrow. And he takes care of us all.

I marvel that I can walk, run, and dance. It’s such an exhilarating feeling to move in my body. God designed my body to be an image of him. It’s amazing to see how beautiful God is in the diversity of my own family.

While walking I find a renewed sense of clarity, creative ideas start to flow, and my muscles begin to stretch after sitting for long hours. When I walk with my sister or a friend, the conversation flows with our breath. It is calming and refreshing to be outside as the season is changing.

I love watching the light lengthen in the evenings. Sunsets brightly filling the sky with colours I want to imitate on canvas.

Being outdoors surrounded by nature, I imagine what it would have been like for Adam and Eve to walk with God in the Garden. Our story is also about walking in the garden with God.

Do we leave space for him to be with us?

Do we invite him into our hearts?

Do we ask him to light our path?

While walking I find a renewed sense of clarity, creative ideas start to flow, and my muscles begin to stretch after sitting for long hours.

Often, I picture myself walking in a garden with Jesus. His sandals are tossed aside, and his bare feet lead the way through a vineyard. Jesus reaches out to pick a grape, checking its ripeness. I follow beside him watching his every move.

We pass a cluster of trees, and I point out to Jesus that it’s a great spot for a picnic. He smiles at me. And I promise to spend more time with him.

During Lent, I reflect on how Jesus desired his disciples to keep watch and pray with him in the Garden of Olives. He was exhausted and needed support emotionally and spiritually from the closest friends he had. Contemplating his passion, I am so grateful for his suffering, dying, and rising.

I want to be close to the Lord to know his plans for me. Praying helps me to feel closer to him even if I can’t hear his audible voice. I know he can hear me.

When stress seeps into my thoughts, I look for words of truth and hope in Scripture. As a writer, I find words hold great significance. And reading holy Scripture is a like a soothing balm on my heart, as comforting as walking with a friend.

As one of the Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (3:5-6).

I’ve often heard that action leads to finding your purpose. I’m lacing up my shoes and hoping that with each next step I take, I walk in God’s way for me.

Lisa Rumpel’s podcast with a new name, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services. It is updated once a month on Wednesday.


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