On the Heights of Zion

“They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
 they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord – 
the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,
 the young of the flocks and herds. 
They will be like a well-watered garden, 
and they will sorrow no more.”  
Jeremiah 31:12

It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to spend quite a lot of time in Israel.  Many favorite memories have been in the context of the Old City of Jerusalem, and on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city. It is “ on the heights of Zion” that the present day Jerusalem sits.  Across from the heights of Zion, separated by a deep valley, is the Mount of Olives, a “well-watered garden” . . . an ancient olive grove.  Visitors flock to the garden, which is commemorated and may well be the place where Jesus spent time praying just before his arrest.  Tourists  make it a regular site to visit.

On one of my visits to the Mount of Olives, walking through the traditional garden of ancient olive trees, an old man approached me.  He was a stranger to me,  and said no word.  But he held a large ring of keys, and motioned for me to follow him.  With hesitation, and curiosity, I followed him across the narrow little road that wound from the top of the Mount of Olives, alongside the walls of the Garden of Gethsemane, and down to the base of the Kidron Valley, where tourists return to their  buses.  

The old man led me across the narrow, walled road to an old  wooden door that I had never seen opened.  He unlocked the door, and motioned for me to go inside.  It was a garden.  Far more humble than the tourist gardens, it had very old olive trees, simple  flower beds, and a worn path through the flowers.  He pointed to a small bench, invited me to sit down, and with a sparkle in his eye, walked back out through the old door, locking it behind him.  

I was doing exactly the things I would always caution our Israel trip groups NOT to do.  But there was a sweet peace in my heart, and I sat down on the bench and simply whispered a prayer that God had my full attention, and I was longing to hear Him speak to my heart whatever He wanted to tell me.  I was listening.  

Looking at the garden surrounding me, my gaze came to rest where it had begun. . . between my own two feet.  A simple little blue violet caught my eye, and I gently plucked it.  Having my focus, I noted the intricate details of this simple blossom. . . a little flower that would  easily go unnoticed  in the humble old garden.  As I held the fragile  blossom, God whispered.  He was there.  He had drawn me away from the crowd, reminding me through a  little flower of His  creation, that He was as aware of me as I was of the sweet  blossom  in my hand.  Simple words from His Heart to mine.  It was a precious Moment in time.  

I needed nothing more.

As His Presence, His simple Words, lingered in my mind . . .heart . . . soul, I looked at the little blossom in my hand, focusing on this Moment in Time.  A humble  garden.  A simple gardener.  A worn old door opened to remind me of His Presence . . . His Love . . . His Truth.  

The sound of the key in the old lock drew my Moment to a close.  The crowd was headed on its way to the next site.  

But the tiny blossom I held between my fingers, and the old gardener with the key would always be a treasured memory . . . a reminder of a sweet  Moment between my dearest Love  and me. 

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