The warmth of the sun and the sound of birds wakes me. I blink in the bright morning light, feeling rested and stronger than the night before. The ache has subsided a bit. Much to my embarrassment, I hear my stomach growling.
“You are hungry.” He noticed too! My cheeks flush in a hot blush. “Come into the garden. Eat of the seeds you have sown.
I do not understand what He means. He takes my arm and leads me down the back steps into the garden. I do not know where He is going or what to do now. So I simply follow.
He leads me into the shad garden. The gnawing emptiness in my gut becomes painful. He points out the mushrooms growing there. I pick several and at His instruction eat them. They are rich and flavorful, satisfying the edge of my hunger and dulling the sharpness of my pain. It I such a relief! I had forgotten they were growing here.
“There is much growing here that you do not know of. There is much fruit now, from seeds that you have sown. It is time to partake in some of it.”
He guides me through the shade garden to the picnic area behind the kitchen. The fence there is covered in dense vines that are heavy with ripe raspberries.
“Gather some of the berries and come with Me.”
I gather as many as I can hold and return to Him. The berries are large and full, a sweet scent rising from them. He takes them from me and we continue to walk around the castle walls. We stop again in the sun at the bench by the moat. The tree there is full of large ripe peaches.
“Take and eat the fruit.” He directs.
My mouth water as I pick a large heavily perfumed fruit. Without hesitation, I bit into the sun-warmed fruit Juice runs down my face and hands. The richly flavorful fruit ease the ache of hunger gnawing at me. I wash the sticky juice from myself in the cool water, taking a long drink as well. I can feel Him smiling on me as I do.
Finally, he takes my arm to walk with me to the bridge over the moat. Growing beside the bridge we find a heavily laden blueberry bush, with fruit as large as large grapes. Below it I notice a lush patch of leafy spinach.
“Gather here, child.”
I take up handfuls of spinach, washing it before I hand it to Him. Then I pluck a many berries as I can hold, again giving them to Him. We walk again, turning right, to stop at the bench at the front gate. Here there is a small patch of tiny wild strawberries beneath a nut tree laden with nuts.
“Gather here as well.” He directs, laying out the berries and spinach on the bench.
The berries are easy to harvest, the nuts take a little more time; shelling them is not easy. Finally, though, I have enough to give to Him.
He takes the final offerings and rolls them, together with the others, into the spinach leaves, reminding me of a salad my children love. Turning back to me, He places the roll in my hand, indicating I should eat.
It is wonderfully filling, rich with the nuts and sweetly tangy with the berries. The freshness of the spinach completes the picture and answers the hunger of my soul. Finally satisfied and refreshed, I sigh and lean against Him, sitting on the bench.
“This is what you are growing in this garden, fruit to fill and heal the wounded, hungry souls.” He pauses. I had not realized that such produce was present here. “Come, let us unlock the gate now so that others may come in and partake of what you have grown here.”
Unlock the gate! Excited anticipation mixed with fear rises up in me. I have kept carefully, intentionally locked for so long. Do I really want to unlock it?
He rises and takes my arm, leading me toward the gate. The gate and fence have changed so much. Now painted white, the well spaced iron bars are just my height now. A definite boundary, but not an impenetrable one any longer.
I fix my eyes on the gate itself. A spring close panel that may be opened only from the inside covers the lock. I do not want to do this. Yet, He has asked me and I did choose that I would submit, not negotiate, not manipulate. Taking a deep breath and deciding once again for submission, I pull open the panel, revealing the lock, a simple dead-bolt style mechanism. I reach to turn the handle, but it is rusty and hard to turn.
“I will submit! I will!” I whisper under my breath, fighting with the lock. Finally, it turns and the gate swings open. It stands ajar, not fully open, but definitely no longer tightly closed. The sight of the open gate raises panic that quickly builds to terror. Without thinking, I turn and run.
But I run straight into Him. He catches hold of my shoulders, firmly, not letting go. “I will guard the gate for you child. As I now guard the door of the castle, so not I will guard this gate as well. Trust Me. I will not betray your trust.”
“Yes, Papa,” I stammer, still overcome by the fear that the sight of the open gate raised in me.
“Come and rest now with Me, before you look at the open gate again.” He leads me back to the bench and guides me to sit with Him. His arm around my shoulder strengthens and comforts me.
Still the open gates trouble me. The though of people coming in draws up expectations of hurt, wounding and being used.
“This is why I will keep guard at the gate.” He replies. “Remember, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Choose to trust Me, child. I will be your protector—your shield, your strong tower. All those names you know Me as I will be for you here. Take Me at My Word.”
“Yes, Papa—I choose to—I will.” I whisper.
We rest a bit longer but then He bids me to return to the gate. I follow Him there. This time, though, He stands behind me, arms around me as I look at the open gate. The fear rises again, but it is not overwhelming this time. I am able to fight it back.
“You have opened the doors to your dreams.” He whispers.
“What dreams?” I ask. “I don’t think I have any.” I am puzzled.
“You do. We will look at them together. But first, give them to me that I may reshape them, purify and mold them.”
“They are yours, Papa.” I reply, sighing as the last of the fear seems to drain away.
“Come then, let us go upstairs.” Together, we walk to the back stairs up to my chamber.