During the last six months, I lost my father, my closest uncle, and three wonderful friends. During these experiences, I have found myself thinking of several others I’m close to who have also recently gone on from this world to be with the Lord. Each of those people were truly “charming gardeners” in my life. They added so much richness to my life and so much joy that it is impossible to adequately describe the effect of their lives upon mine.
Some of them I saw virtually every day, some every month or two, and a few only a couple times a year. But our love and our relationship was a living, active reality that I was constantly aware of possessing. It’s only natural then, I suppose, that I am still a little overwhelmed, from time to time, at the void I experience just knowing they are not here with me any longer. Just yesterday, I was driving along in my car, and suddenly a new realization of the void each of them has left rose up in me, and I found myself saying, “My life is getting so empty.”
I am thrilled to be able to say that each of those individuals knew the Lord Jesus, and I have no doubts that we will be reunited in Heaven in the future. But the interim – the time of my living out this earthly struggle without them – weighs heavily on me.
Now, I would hasten to add that I do still have a few family members and several other wonderful friends alive and active in my life, and they still add to my joy. So, in truth, my life is not technically “empty.” But it’s still true that the presence of those lost – and the effect of their presence on me – has left an empty place that nothing else, and no one else can fill.
However, I have also realized that this “garden” I call my life still bears the fruit of their influence upon it. They have tilled the soil of my life, and they have enriched it with the nutrients of their love, their grace, and their personal gifts. They have planted seeds of themselves in that garden. And they have indeed caused my soul to “blossom.” So I have the joy of knowing that I will continue to produce those “blossoms.” I will continue to bear the fruit of their plantings in my life, so I still have a very real part of them with me.
I’m so grateful for those “blossoms.” And I count them very dear. I find that I also count more dear than ever before the presence and influence of those who are still a physical part of my life. I find myself wanting to spend more time with those loved ones and to be sweeter and kinder to them than ever before. And I understand more every day that nothing else in this world – no physical wealth, no fame, no prestige or power – can compare in value to the personal relationships we have with the people who love us and depend on our love.
One of the greatest treasures I could wish for those of you reading these words is that you have the blessing of such “charming gardeners” in your own life, that you bear the fruit of their planting, and that you become a “charming gardener” in the lives of all those you have relationship with.