by Jenneth Graser,
“Imagine…you hold a key in the palm of your hand. Turning it over, observe the weight of it, the designs worn to a smooth bronze through the passage of time. You walk towards a high stone wall covered with tapestries of wisteria, virginia creeper and ferns. Under the waving foliage, you can just make out the edge of a door…”
Just over a year ago, a book started coming into being even though I didn’t know it at the time. We were forced into lockdown here in South Africa just like everyone else around the world due to the global pandemic. I began writing daily for a while to help me through those initial stages. The secret garden of the heart was calling out to me and so I wrote from out of this place of prayer and imagination. These writings then formed the foundation for what eventually, over a year later, became a devotional released in June 2021 called, Unlocking the Secret Garden: 100 Days of Imaginative Prayer.
Each day of Unlocking the Secret Garden, you are invited into a retreat to be enjoyed from the sacred space of your own home, or with your family and friends as you may like to explore the prayer activations together with others. It’s a journey filled with self-discovery, healing, and imaginative prayer, where you will also be encouraged to design your very own secret garden. Each of the 100 devotions takes you on a journey into your secret garden within, and as each day unfolds, themes come to life in a garden with no containment. By allowing the child in you to be present, you will experience new ways of praying with your imagination. You are invited into the secret garden, where you will encounter yourself and Jesus afresh.
“Your inward life is now sprouting, bringing forth fruit.
What a beautiful paradise unfolds within you.
When I’m near you, I smell aromas of the finest spice,
for many clusters of my exquisite fruit
now grow within your inner garden.”
“Awake, O north wind!
Awake, O south wind!
Breathe on my garden with your Spirit-Wind.
Stir up the sweet spice of your life within me.
Spare nothing as you make me your fruitful garden.
Hold nothing back until I release your fragrance.
Come walk with me as you walked with Adam in your paradise garden.
Come taste the fruits of your life in me.”
The following is an excerpt from the book, a reading from Day 1 with video to follow:
You are standing before the threshold of an intricately carved wooden door surrounded by a mystery of hanging creepers, moss and ferns. Take note of your feelings, of everything you can hear and see around you, as you turn the key to unlock the door and walk straight into a green cathedral of trees, light and a carpet of flowers. It is time to enter the secret garden within.
Pathways branch out in a variety of directions, but you see footprints in soft grass leading you towards the unknown places of the garden. You look ahead and see Jesus waiting for you. His presence is an atmosphere of calm and eternity. There is no line of worry on his face, only lines of kindness and joy, profound strength. When you look into the eyes of Christ, fear melts and burdens begin to loosen from off of your shoulders, where you have been carrying them for what seems long ages.
What is this season going to reveal? It is time to follow your Good Shepherd, as you place your feet in the ways he is opening for you and move forward, together.
Light a candle. Become present to the Light of the World. Allow the warmth of Spirit to fill your heart as a flame, enlivening your prayers as they rise in God’s presence. Focus on the burning candle and your oneness with God.
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
St. Francis of Assisi
A video of Day 1’s reading:
I invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel where you will find more readings from Unlocking the Secret Garden, prayers on different themes and other poetry and devotional readings: https://youtube.com/user/jennblog.
Unlocking the Secret Garden: 100 Days of Imaginative Prayer is available in paperback or Kindle e-book!
I’ve just released this free PDF download Unlocking the Secret Garden Small Group Guide for those who would like to make use of the book in their church or small group.
Bio for Jenneth Graser
Jenneth Graser lives in a seaside valley of the Western Cape of South Africa with her husband, Karl and three daughters. She is a writer, contemplative pianist, homeschool Mom and the author of devotional and poetry books. Jenneth loves her library of second-hand books, practicing the presence of God in nature’s cathedral and flying in airplanes on her way to new adventures.
She believes in the healing power of heart conversations, centering prayer, and the constantly transforming journey of the inner life. Jenneth is part of a community of writers for the Godspace blog and a collaborator at Being Human. You can find out more at http://secretplacedevotion.weebly.com/
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