My love affair began when I was in 7th grade.
I stood in my Uncle David and Aunt France’s yard in Oregon stunned at the beauty of their flowers. I knew I would become a gardener and would love flowers for the rest of my life.
Back home in Georgia, I announced my intentions to my mother and requested a packet of seeds. I found a clear patch of hard Georgia clay in a sunny spot in our woods, poured the seeds onto the ground, followed with a good drenching of water. Then I waited.
Nothing ever grew.
Gardening was harder than I expected, but my love didn’t die.
Fifteen years later, I dug my dream back out again, planting a small garden in my fenced-in back yard while my young son and energetic dog watched. No seeds for me this time. Full-grow plants would surely work better.
The next morning my garden was gone. My dog had eaten every single plant, but my love didn’t die.
A few years later, it was time. We’d bought a new house, fenced the dog off from my vision, invited my gardening guru friend Karen to guide me, and installed a true garden overflowing with flora and fauna.
The fruits of our labors brought tears to my eyes.
My love affair with flowers had never faded, and, finally, I was a Gardner.
Gardening wasn’t my only love affair.
As a college student studying in Europe, I followed the two new friends I’d made in the lobby of my Paris hotel into the impressionist art museum, Musée de l’Orangerie, and fell in love.
Breathless at my first glimpse of Claude Monet’s water lilies“Les Nymphéas,” I was unprepared for the emotional reaction his works stirred in me. I knew I would love him forever.
Is it any wonder that twenty years later in Giverny, France, as I strolled around Claude Monet’s water lily pond (magically captured in his paintings) and meandered through his garden (an explosion of organized chaos of flowers beyond anything I’d seen before), that I staggered as a blind man seeing for the first time?
And is it any wonder that as I stepped down into his art studio, once again face to face with the works of this creative genius who’d stolen my heart, that I was again overwhelmed and breathless.
I turned to my daughter Brittany to tell her, but words failed me when I saw she felt it too. Standing in stunned silence, tears spilled down her face. She, too, was in love with Monet, and I knew she would love him for the rest of her life.
When friends ask me to name my favorite memory of my trip to Europe, I easily recall a hundred memorable moments, but I think that one second in time will forever remain one of the most special moments in my life.
To experience a love that moves you to tears is one of God’s greatest gifts.
To experience it with another is even greater.