Two Gardens.

There are two significant gardens in the Gospels. In Gethsemane you find Jesus agonising over the prospect of imminent death. John’s Gospel gives us the other garden: a place vibrantly alive with a vast, pregnant silence.

“I am deeply grieved,” says Jesus in Gethsemane, “Remain here, and keep awake,” he says to Peter, James and John.

There’s a lovely reflective Taize chant, ‘Stay with me; remain here with me. Watch and pray.” The words and the music have stayed with me since Easter. As I hear it in my head, the words become mine. It’s me saying, stay with me. As I try to watch and pray, the betrayer appears accompanied by a crowd armed with swords and clubs. My anxieties and fears crowd round, menacing, threatening. Betrayal! Judas! But deeper than this dark, crowded place in me is that other, silent, vibrant, spacious garden – Christ in me the hope of glory, as Paul puts it.

Re-discovering that ever present place of growth is only possible if I don’t try and fight that crowd of ruffian anxieties and fears. There’s nothing they like more than a fight. “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword,” says Jesus to Peter. Surrender is the only way to deal with this ruffian crowd. It’s not an abject cowardly surrender. It is a calm non-judgemental gaze at all that is going on in my head. Only thus do I suddenly find myself in that other, spacious, powerful place of Resurrection – Christ in me the hope of glory.

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