Meditations and Musings
Lent is upon us, a time for contemplation, a time to look hard at ourselves. We attempt to reduce distractions in order to listen to God. Some of us take on a practice or a commitment that demands effort and it makes us see how much we depend on God.
Prayer is an essential component in the observation of the 40 days of Lent. I would like to suggest the following places as special places for contemplation and prayer.
Maxcy Gregg Park,Columbia
Blossom St. near Five Points, at Pickens St.
There is a Labyrinth in the park. Did you know that? A Labyrinth is a great opportunity for contemplation and prayer. The pattern for the labyrinth at Maxcy Gregg is that of the one set in the stone floor of Chartres Cathedral, France in 1220 AD. It is a classical 11-circuit labyrinth.
You will also find a beautiful Creekside walking path as well as a place to sit and rest within this park.
1066 Botany Bay Rd.
Edisto Island, S.C.
(45 minutes south of Charleston)
Botany Bay is many things to many people. What? You haven’t heard of Botany Bay?? It is a little bit of heaven. One of the most important features is the two-mile-long natural beach, The path to the beach follows a narrow causeway across a salt marsh. Feel the sea breeze as you hear it rustle through the trees; smell the salt marsh and listen for the roar of the surf as you walk across the causeway to the beach. This place is a feast for the senses; come prepared to be amazed. Observe the stages of the maritime forest.
To preserve the beach’s natural state, shelling is restricted. You might be treated to a display of “beach art,” as folks are sometimes inspired to arrange the shells of whelks, clams and oysters on driftwood logs and branches for others to enjoy.
You will find a quiet spot along the beach where you may be alone. It is not hard to do. Be alone, and take time to appreciate the beauty of God’s handiwork.
On a recent morning I reached for …….
my oldest pair of jeans, the sweatshirt covered with paint blotches, the parka with a split seam in the sleeve and those wonderful big pockets, last years athletic shoes, and stiff gloves still covered with dried mud. Now, I’m dressed for THE job in comfort clothes----ones I can ignore and feel free in, ones that give me room to reach, to crouch, to sit on the bare ground.
I lose a sense of myself in these clothes. They are more like a second skin. Now the garden is the focus. I am free to be in it and with it.
Is this not the way of prayer as well----to be so self-forgetting as to be comfortable, and lose ourselves in God’s presence??
A Gardener’s Prayer
Father of all gardeners,
We thank You for beginning the world in a garden.
We thank You for the morning and the singing of the birds.
We thank You for the quiet and peace of eventide and the blessing of sleep which comes with the night.
As we rise in the morning to work in our gardens,
Grant that the toil of our bodies may bring tranquility to our minds,
that we may lose ourselves in your presence,
That the growth of our plantings be exemplified in the growth of our souls.
That the fruit of our labor be the perfect attainment,
the crowning glory of a life dedicated to Thee.
Quiet moments, Contemplation, Inspiration and Prayer.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
The Lord God Planted a Garden
By Dorothy Gurney
How many times have I quoted this poem? I seek refuge in my garden when I’m worried, concerned, stressed, restless…..I’m sure you have the idea. Why? Because prayer is easier when I am surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation and the everyday distractions are removed.
Prayer is how we communicate with God. Prayer takes many shapes and forms. Many of us may pray unconsciously. Perhaps you say “arrow” prayers, as one friend of mine calls the instant 5-10 words one may utter in thanks or as a concern, person or need comes to mind. Some may prefer structured prayer as found in the Book of Common Prayer in the Episcopal Church. And others may pray casually in a conversation format. The form of prayer doesn’t matter. God tells us He hears our prayers and answers them. "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
Mark 11:24 (NIV)
In the coming months, I plan to introduce you to a few of the special “gardens” throughout our state that are set aside for quiet moments, contemplation, inspiration and prayer. I hope you will take a brief detour from your travels in our state and a few moments from your hectic schedule to visit one or more of these special places where you may find yourself in God’s presence.
VISIT Mepkin Abbey –A Trappist Monastery
1098 Mepkin Abbey Rd.
Monks Corner, S.C. 29461
Tours are offered at Mepkin Abbey Tuesday through Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The tranquil grounds are beautiful. You will find numerous gardens, ponds (mind the alligators), many woodland walks, and a relaxing trail along the bluff overlooking the Cooper river. Allow plenty of time….you will wish for more time than you allow. There is a small store on the premises that is not to be missed. Try the “Drizzle”! This is an unusual fruit syrup that is great with Brie, pound cake or my favorite—with chicken.
Christ Episcopal Church,
10 North Church Street Greenville, SC 29601
Christ Church is one of five original Greenville downtown churches. The church is in the National Register of Historic Places, and the church buildings and churchyard “offer a unique assembly of history, Gothic Revival architecture and beauty”. The grounds are lovingly tended. I encourage you to visit the small Memorial garden on the south side of the Church. Here you will find beautiful shrubs, plants and annuals to enjoy while sitting on one of the benches. There is a beautiful white marble altar, as well as plaques to identify those interred within this small, quiet, and peaceful garden. This is a pleasant place for a few minutes intermission when visiting the bustling city.
Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore
The Art of Prayer by Timothy Jones
And When You Pray by Ray Pritchard
Chaplain, Garden Club of South Carolina