One of my favorite places is Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. This is my refuge from an increasingly hectic world, a place to renew the spirit and refresh the soul. My favorite spot there is the Ida Cason Callaway memorial chapel in the heart of the gardens, overlooking a tranquil lake. Here, in the beauty of God’s creation, you can hear the birds singing, the breeze rustling through the trees, the stream gently cascading over the waterfall, and if you’re lucky, the music from the chapel organ floating out over the lake. Whenever I’m there, the words to a well-known hymn come to mind:
I go to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
the Son of God discloses
And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.
Before He was betrayed, Jesus went to a garden called Gethsemane. He was seeking peace and serenity as he prayed for the strength and courage to face the trials that were to come. Although he knew His death was near, he sought solace in His Father’s creation. The words to another hymn, perhaps not as well known, penned by Georgia’s poet Sidney Lanier come to mind:
Out of the woods my Master went,
and He was well content
Out of the woods my Master came,
content with death and shame.
When death and shame would woo Him last,
From under the trees they drew Him last,
‘Twas on a tree they slew Him last,
When out of the woods He came.
It is my hope that in this season of Lent, you can find your own place of peace and solitude, whether it is your neighborhood park, your own back yard, or a quiet corner in your house to pray, to reflect, to meditate on God’s greatest gift to us: His Son Jesus Christ.