One of my favorite places as a child was visiting ZILKER GARDENS in Austin, Texas where I have lived most of my life. ZILKER offers more than twenty-six acres of winding paths and flourishing gardens. This botanical wonderland has been welcoming visitors for more than sixty years. It is truly a “jewel in the heart of the city.”
In the early days, my parents would take my sister and me to the gardens for picnics. I can remember running up and down the paths, hiding behind the billowing bushes and native trees, leaping with abandon across the quiet pools of water lilies and golden koi. Carefully navigating the wet stepping stones, my sister and I would lose ourselves in the joy of play. Our faces flushed with sunshine, we would race through the garden, stopping to marvel at each tiny hidden delight. Such an abundance of miracles; to the right a splashing turtle and to the left a fluttering butterfly, in the distance a splashing waterfall just beyond a fragrant bed of lavender.
Sometimes we would all take artist’s sketchpads and draw what we saw. Sitting cross-legged on a patch of grass, we would color the roses or locate ourselves near the butterfly garden and try to capture the wonder of all that we beheld. Often we would take a walk through the woods and make up stories about the gardens. The magic of that place and its natural beauty sent our imaginations soaring.
With all of the glory this garden paradise had to offer, the most precious part of this memory is the time spent with my family. There was such innocent joy in simply walking the gentle paths with my Dad or eating my mom’s special picnic treats. I loved playing with my sister and making up all those grand stories for us to experience. Then when exhausted from play, I recall taking my rest beneath the canopy of an old oak. There I would lean my head back and dream while the birds serenaded me with their twittering joy.
Jesus said, “you must become as a little child to know the kingdom of God.” Perhaps it is no mistake that we discover the risen Christ in a garden. God placed us in a perfect garden in the beginning after all. Before the great withering, the garden was a paradise where Creator and creation walked together.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Easter has come and watered the dusty ground with fountains of alleluias! The flowers of faith in all of their finery reach out to the rising dawn and open with new life.
God once again walks in the garden with his children. Far away from the noise of our own failures and broken dreams, he calls us home to Eden. There he spreads a bountiful table filled with the finest gifts for all his little ones. He takes us by the hand, and like a loving parent, guides us on a journey of discovery. He shares without reservation the lavish abundance of this garden place. This is where life truly begins, the place where love is born and blossoms into grace. Come, children come, come run with me, let’s play in the garden again.
Editor’s Note: Take time to explore Jonathan’s latest publications by clicking the links below.