In the springtime, we tore out our fenced vegetable garden to expand and visually tidy up the backyard. The garden was moved to more manageable, newly-built raised beds on the street side of the property. Having become utterly inamoured with the rustic gate with its chipped paint and rusty metal, I didn’t want to part with it. My plan was to utilize it as a charming front gate. In my imagination, it was an adorable solution. In reality, it didn’t work.
Inspired by Christmas decor from reclaimed lumber on Etsy and Pinterest, I pulled out my garden scraps (somehow I managed to salvage despite the opposition). My former garden gifted me with free wood for my projects, and the humble garden gate has been transformed into my favorite decoration this Christmas.
With a few nails and a string of white lights, the old gate is now center stage. It gives me such joy and it is a fitting metaphor for this season of life. Like my gate, this year has left me questioning and displaced…
Imagine the poor little gate who had faithfully guarded the garden opening day and night, season after season. He had a purpose and a function. Sometimes when bunnies came to visit, he was appreciated, but often he wasn’t noticed at all. He didn’t mind – in his heart, he knew his place. One day, he was roughly torn out and the entire fence dismantled. Thrown into a pile of lumber, he wondered if he what would become of him. How difficult it was just to lay there and not serve a purpose. Would he ever have purpose again? If he didn’t have purpose, did he still have value? He looked at his peeling paint worn by time spent guarding his post – would his contribution to the garden be remembered? No longer connected to the fence, he felt very alone.
The gate heard rumors about being moved and disagreements over his value. “The old thing should just go to the dump.” “But, I think it’s beautiful – look at the pretty paint colors.” “It’s a peeling piece of junk.” “It’s a work of art.” Some how the garden gate managed to avoid the dreaded dump, but still he laid in a heap on the lumber pile. Sometimes, the adventurous boys would lived in the yard would pull him out as part of their play. During a temporary post as a soccer goal or a play fort, he cried to himself, “I was created to be a garden gate – will I ever serve a noble purpose again.”
The long, laziness of summer gave way to short and crisp autumn days. The gate felt ugly and broken. He finally gave up and awaited the inevitable white burial of his hopes and dreams. As his last hope dimmed in the low winter light, a young boy dragged him from the pile and brought him inside the house to his mother. The gate had never been inside nor even dreamed it was a place he should be or could be. A little embarrassed by the praises of the mother, the humble gate was cleaned and sanded. Around his new nails a string of white lights was wrapped in the shape of a star. When he was lit, the garden gate didn’t even recognize himself – he was transformed!
Placed on a shelf in the living room, the simple gate was given a new purpose – to shine. No longer part of a useful garden, he now was a cherished piece of art lighting up the entire room. The gate served to remind those inside the little house of an ancient star that guided hearts to a more Ancient Light whose powerful illumination changed history and transforms lives today. What joy filled his heart as he stood tall in his new post! In his wildest hopes and dreams, he never would have thought, a simple and utilitarian garden garden, would ever be given such an honor position.
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined. Matthew 4:16
May this inspire you to see the old in a new light, to bring the forgotten and neglected center stage, and to find beauty among the broken. Whether it’s old boards or old dreams or a calling on hold, I pray the transforming beauty of God’s love and the JOY of the Christmas season will inspire you and change you forever.
Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of JOY. (my emphasis) Psalm 65:8