Not-so-secret Garden

It’s 11:52 am, and I am sitting here alone in a gazebo in the PSU botanical garden. I should be having lunch with my friends right now, talking and laughing in the canteen, surrounded by other students. But I needed this respite; I needed these precious moments of solitude.  And when faced with a choice between food for the body and food for the soul, the answer is always the same. I am perfectly content to be where I am right now.

It is beautiful here; everywhere I look I see the hand of the great Artist. Palawan is always spectacular in June, but this year everything seemed more amazing, different somehow. Or maybe the change is in me, maybe I have learned to see more clearly now. I don’t really know, and for this moment, it doesn’t seem to matter.

I look around me, and I am filled with a wonder, a joy I cannot possibly express in words. Bliss, perhaps, is closest to what I am feeling right now. There are flowers everywhere, in every color. The cool rains have woken them up from their sleep, and they have never seemed lovelier to me. Yellowbells, hibiscus, bougainvillas, zinnias, periwinkles, orchids, and a dozen others I cannot name. The fire trees, laden with blossoms, lift up their dazzling red flowers to the soft blue of the sky. Scattered on the ground beneath the branches are the fallen petals – still colorful, still striking. Even in death, there is beauty, there is poetry, they seem to say. However, it is the unobtrusive simplicity of the gardenias that capture my attention the most. A long row of bushes lining the pathway has burst into bloom, and the glossy, dark green leaves seem to offer the pure white flowers as a gift. Their captivating scent floats through the garden, giving the breeze a sweetness that makes me want to dream and dream and dream….

It is easy to fall asleep here, easy to rest. The garden grows on a low hill overlooking the sea, which glistens joyfully in the sun, as if like me, it is glad that it is June once again. The waves break gently on the shore, weaving a hypnotic melody that only those who listen closely can understand. Mesmerized by the music, I lift up my eyes to the mountains in the distance. Dark blue and enigmatic, they whisper secrets to the clouds while sunlight and shadow play on their shoulders. Surrounded by such loveliness, I cannot keep myself from I thinking: Can there be any other place more alive?

In a few minutes, I shall have to leave. Once again, I will be caught up in the world of classes, responsibilities, work, relationships. Not necessarily a bad world, but different from this serenity, and at times hurtful and confusing. But I know that these past few moments have strengthened me. There is healing in the garden, in solitude, in communion with my true Love. In the breeze I can almost hear Him whisper, See, I love you. Do you not know that? Here in the garden or there in the crowd, I am with you. Even when the flowers and the fragrances fade, I will be your peace. Always.

You see, that is what I really  needed. To hear Him. More than the solitude, more than the loveliness, I craved His voice. In the busyness, in the crazy rush of daily life, I sometimes forget to listen. So I come here to reconnect. And always – always – I find Him waiting.

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