At various times, we’ve posted about Julie’s vision for The Lavender Pavilion. In particular, we’ve described the very specific vision God gave her for a prayer garden where women (mostly) can come to pray, reflect, and experience God’s presence. [see “Pursuing a God-Sized Dream” – July 16, 2010]. This dream was born in 2010 in Fullerton, California…and it now is being fulfilled, 4 years later, here in Springfield, Oregon.
It has been a slow journey – one that continues to test our patience – because we are a long way from the fulfillment of the dream. We are learning that God does not care much about time, so we do what we can, when we can, and we leave the details up to Him.
And yet now – for the first time – the dream actually is edging into reality.
We finally have finished clearing the pasture of weeds, brush, blackberries, rotting lumber, cement, sundry pieces of metal, and other stuff left behind by former residents of this old farm property over the past 100 years. We finally are done with the process of simply removing old stuff, and we now have the joy of creating something entirely new.
As a first step, we built a parking area where visitors to our home will be able to access the prayer garden.
We rented a mini-loader (a “walk-behind” Bobcat) to carve out the parking area along our back lane. We had to make multiple passes, in multiple directions, in order to get the ground relatively smooth.
We learned that doing this kind of work in August is not real smart, because our clay soil is dry and packed hard. If we do any excavating in the future, we will do it when the soil is slightly damp and much softer.
All of the roads, lanes, and driveways in our semi-rural neighborhood are gravel, so – after the excavation – we had 20 cubic yards of gravel dumped on site. Two huge truckloads; the driver told me the total load weighed 30 tons!
We then shoveled and wheel-barrowed and raked it around to level it. As a final step, we needed to pack it down. Rather than rent a roller, I just drove my Jeep back-and-forth over it for about 40 minutes. It worked great!
Parking areas like this usually are framed with railroad ties, 4x4’s, or 4x8’s, but we wanted to do something different. We want the whole garden – even the parking area – to be attractive. We also want to re-purpose various items and use them in the garden. (For example, some of the “junk” we discovered in the pasture will find a new home in the garden).
So – instead of using lumber – we framed the parking area with limbs from the huge 100-year old cedar tree in our front yard. The heavy snows of the last two winters broke off a number of branches, and we also had the tree pruned. As a result, we have limbs galore stored in our barn!
All of this cedar will be used in the garden to line the pathways, and we started with the parking area. The dirt we excavated has been mounded up behind the cedar logs, and eventually we will plant shrubs on these mounds. This will add color and beauty as people arrive, and will help create a visual barrier between the garden and the parked cars.
The whole parking lot project took about 13 hours over two days. Hot, sweaty work in 90-degree temps.
As we watched this take shape, the vision became real to us for the first time. Yes, it’s just a parking area…but it is far more than a place to park cars. To us, this is a tangible sign that now we are creating. We are building. We are moving forward. And we are filled with an incredible sense of joy. The joy of building something for God and for God’s people. And we are filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God for trusting us with this vision.
And we continue to move forward.
We’ve measured and laid out the boundaries for the first walkway through the garden, which will be lined with cedar limbs and “paved” with bark chips. (Our local supplier has a product called “walk-on bark” that is ideal for this purpose. It allows us to create pathways much more quickly and economically than using stepping-stones, pavers, or cement. Also, if a pathway ever needs to be relocated, it can be done with minimal cost and hassle.) This initial walkway will lead to an area we are calling The Prayer Path; a place of seclusion where visitors can walk, pray, and hopefully experience the presence of God.
The garden will include many other features, but The Prayer Path will be at the very heart of The Lavender Pavilion.
Reaching this point has involved lots of patience…lots of prayer…and huge amounts of physical labor. Yet there has been great joy in tackling this project together, one step at a time. There also is tremendous joy…and soul satisfaction…in watching God work in us and through us to give birth to His vision.
- Bruce & Julie