God of the garden,
God of the park,
God of growing things
and of wild spaces,
God who whispers in the leaves,
weeps through the clouds,
shouts with the sun;
you have my heart.
I am yours.
While waiting, I watched the dragonflies. I stood close to the green heart of a yellow fringed flower, watching a fuzzy-bodied bee sip its nectar. Birds watched me and danced among the tall stalks, and with each other. I laid on my back beside an artificial stream, coins shone on the tiled bottom. Clouds sketched whitely on the buoyantly blue sky glided slowly and showed their reflection in the skyscrapers that towered, lean and gleaming. M. Ward sang, “With my eyes on the prize, and my mind on you, I put my pride on the line, and my whole life too…” And I laid there, my phone on my belly, waiting for the call from friends who would be meeting me there at Millennium Park to hear Ray LaMontagne and David Gray roughly croon our hearts away.
That morning I had went to the park. I walked, mostly, did some yoga and climbed “sledding hill.” I listened to a podcast about Mohammed and Islam. The speaker helped me grow in understanding and respect for Muslim teaching, providing a more in depth perspective from that proliferated through daily news sound-bites and general assumptions. Its flaws, usually the result of misapplication are quite similar to ours [Christianity]—violence, prejudice—as are the qualities at its heart—liberation, compassion. Hearing though that Mohammed, the exemplar of Islamic teaching, was a military leader, I felt suddenly grateful for Jesus’ rejection of that role. I remembered a recent reading of Gandhi attempting to creatively interpret around a call to arms in the Gita. I thought about the fearful question that sometimes surfaces when I read the Law of the Prophets or even the poetry of canonized Hebrew scripture; “What if God was, what if God is really a tyrant?” Amid this pondering stood Jesus, the Christ; enduringly non-coercive, non-violent, consistently compassionate and critical of injustice. He did not force or connive but offered an invitation, “come and see,” and a Way.
The merciful, radical, insightful Jesus’ reverence for the God of history, the “God of Abraham,” encourages me to look beyond the apparently cruel exterior I am often presented with and to perceive the God, creative and compassionate, that holds my heart as I work in the garden or walk in the park. If they are indeed One, I will be one with them.