A few days ago I heard on a local Christian radio station, “Our journey to Heaven begins at the foot of the Cross.” Instantly and in thought, I corrected the radio station’s deejay, “No, our journey to Heaven begins in the Garden.”
Several years ago I wrote a poem based on a particular Lenten meditation in which I found myself. In it, I saw Jesus in His solitary agony, weeping in the shadows of the Garden of Gethsemane. His Passion had begun. The time was at hand for the fulfillment of Scripture.
I approached Jesus tenderly, with a heart rendered helpless and yet full of strife – the filth of my own sins, the brokenness and betrayals I carried for countless years, and the afflictions of grief that often overwhelmed me.
In that moment, my broken heart was my only offering to the One about to endure an unthinkable death for my sake and salvation. I offered it to Jesus, and in my emptiness, He accepted all of it – all of me – as His own burden. He was willing to lose His life in order to save my soul and countless other souls.
What struck me was my perception of Jesus’ weakness as I watched Him tremble. I could not fathom His mental torment, the onus of observing the sins of humanity – individually and collectively – and the subsequent transference of these sins onto Himself. Somehow His weakness beckoned me, though I abhorred the sight before me – Jesus bleeding, sweating, shaking, and collapsing in tears.
I wanted to see the resplendent Jesus, the glorified Savior, the victorious and righteous Redeemer about whom I had learned from childhood and whom I followed in my lifelong spiritual odyssey. For a time, however, God asked me to stay with His Son in the Garden. I was permitted to view Jesus in His full humanity – His wrestling with fear, the psychological and emotional temptations from the enemy, and His own emptying of self.
Could I assuage His imminent torture with my presence? The answer was a resounding “no,” and yet of one thing I was certain: All Jesus really desired was the gift of my broken nature, my fallibility, the emptying of my self. During His weakest and most excruciating moments, He still carried me. My redemption began with Jesus in the Garden.
I share with you my heartfelt poem, In the Garden, to leave you with something to ponder during this Holy Week – the holiest of weeks and the most somber of days. It is fitting for us to pause during the increasing frenzy and flurry of busyness in our lives. It is fitting for us to walk with Jesus, if only in our hearts, in the Garden.
In the Garden
I watch You weeping in the Garden,
As you lift up Your eyes to Heaven
And cry out,
But no one responds.
Though I watch from a distance,
I long to be next to You –
To hold You,
Envelop You with love.
For I know of pain and sorrow,
Struggle and loss.
But no knowledge or words exist
To express what You experience now.
I watch You turn to me in the Garden,
And I see Your weakness for the first time.
You have always been so strong –
But now I begin to see Your brokenness.
It shames me to witness this,
For I see my own flaws and frailties
Reflected in Your eyes.
Still You beckon me to stay with You,
And I cannot deny You this.
For my heart is overflowing with love –
A love I have never before
Understood or accepted
Until this moment.
I walk towards You in the Garden –
Slowly but deliberately.
With every step closer, I long to be near You.
I am anticipating our embrace –
The moment when I can finally
Of all that has been burdening me –
A lifetime of baggage
Holding me back
From the fullness and fruition of
I finally embrace You in the Garden,
And we weep together,
Our tears becoming one.
The salt stings our eyes,
But it is sweet to our lips.
It is the taste of love
That can only be known
Through loss and grief.
We stand together now in the Garden
Uttering no words.
Instead we rely upon
The unspoken language of love.
There is renewed hope this time –
In the whisper of the wind.
I realize now that
Without You I have nothing,
But in Your weakness and suffering
I have found great courage.
I now know that, in order to
I must walk this journey
For a time
In the Garden.