During a recent visit, I found out that Mom and Dad each tend separate gardens on their spacious lawn. After a visit to the town nursery, Mom plants the new-comers just North of the porch on the well-established garden that delights butterflies, bumblebees, and thirsty robins throughout the day. Up ahead stands a statue of St Francis where blue jays and orioles sometimes perch, surrounded by a colorful array of wild flowers. Mom's patience and discipline have paid off; the landscape is gorgeous.
Although I love all these gardens, I was thrilled to learn about the more hidden one that evolved over several years. Dad calls it the Garden of Second Chances. This hopeful patch welcomes those plants and flowers not worthy of front row status - the ones that, despite having the same soil and fertilizers, just don't make it elsewhere. Whatever Mom doesn't need in her gardens ends up here, where it gets a second chance.
|Dad's Garden of Second Chances|
Although early on this garden wasn't much to look at, it is now vibrant and beautiful, and the yard wouldn't be the same without it. A second chance made all the difference.
How often do we discard things - or, worse - give up on people without giving them the second chance that could save them or make a difference in their lives?
Do we withhold from the broken the gift of a fresh start? And when we fall short of our expectations, do we crawl around full of life-smothering shame and regret, or do we offer ourselves grace?
Last week I attended a convention where I discovered an Irish band that rocks. They call themselves Rend Collective Experiment, and their song Second Chance captured my soul. It celebrates the "countless second chances we've been given at the Cross." The chorus brings the truth of God's mercy home: "A second chance is Heaven's heart."
Indeed, we've all been given a second chance - many times! "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22,23)
Dad's Garden of Second Chances reminds me of God's grace - the undeserved favor and goodness He lavishes on imperfect people. Forgiveness is very often undeserved; that's what makes it a gift.
Next time I visit Mom and Dad, as always, I plan to photograph butterflies, study hummingbirds, and get a grand tour of Mom's lovely flower beds. And then I'll stroll up the hill to an unassuming patch of green that houses something we all need. Hope. Mercy. Grace.
And I will say a prayer of thanksgiving to a good Lord - the giver of all good things. The One whose grace is limitless. The One whose love never ends.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1)
For more pictures and stories of my in-laws' gardens, read Living in the Moment and A Lesson in Patience from Hens and Chickens.