This afternoon, a friend and I planned on meeting for lunch, then going to Meijer Gardens together to enjoy the spring flowers. I arrived at the restaurant first, which was unusual. After waiting until a few minutes after our planned meeting time, it was time to check my messages. This friend is consistently dependable. Sure enough there was a message waiting from earlier this morning indicating a need to reschedule.
One of the downfalls of the digital age is there are several ways to contact someone. This particular path of communication was not one I monitor regularly. My friend wouldn’t know that since it was how we communicated about our plans for the day.
Being in private practice for over 25 years, changes in my schedule are common. Learning through the years, the best way to embrace the opportunity of some unexpected leisure time is to pray for ideas to make the best use of unscheduled time.
The restaurant is close to the gardens so that was still going to be part of the plan. Seeing spring flowers and checking out the other indoor gardens would be refreshing. Since it was a gloriously sunny day, a power walk was in order through the outdoor gardens. Walking around this magnificent place is a treat every season of the year. The walk outside alone was worth the trip. The next few hours were going to be great!
After parking, I began gathering the necessities for my adventure. Pulling out my driver’s license and membership card, it was time to put on my coat, bundle up with a scarf and gloves to enter into the beauty of this winter wonderland. Turning to grab my coat, reality hit; no coat. Ugh! It was bright, sunny and 20 degrees. Known for rarely wearing a coat, it was too cold even for me to walk around outside. Change of plans once again. Sigh.
Deep breath, another prayer, it was time to get out of the car, get my ticket and see what was available in the treasured walled in sanctuary. Walking briskly to the building (it was cold), I had to fight off a bit of frustration at myself for not bringing my coat. Having learned long ago to let go of things unchangeable, I took in another deep breath and entered into the comfort of knowing God was with me and always wanted to show me things. Accepting what happened and being grateful for what remained opened a pathway for peace to wash over me.
Slowing down to simply observe my surroundings, my senses were sharpening. Taking in the mingling of fragrances from the flowers and plants, gazing deeply into the colors and shapes of spring flowers pushing through the ground offered a preview of what will be coming outside in a few weeks. Included in this display were some newly planted spring flowers clearly not surviving their new surroundings. As I looked up, I could see the snow and bare trees through the window from inside this protected paradise. Life could be observed in one glance. Things dormant, emerging, fully developed and dying were all fully present.
After enjoying the spring installation, I was drawn to go into the tropical garden. As the automatic door slid open, I felt the sultry warm air glide across my skin. Looking around this utopia, I could feel the Creator reaching out to me through His creation. Slowly walking along the stone path, breathing in the clean air produced by these amazing living wonders, I realized this is right where I needed to be. Enjoying a change in plans.
Sitting on a bench basking in the awe of each plant, flower, bird and waterfall sound, a couple walked by me then stopped to take a selfie of the two of them by the waterfall. As I typically do when I am at the gardens, especially when I am alone, I said, “Would you like me to take a picture of the two of you by the waterfall?” The man said, “No, thanks. We’re good.” They began to walk away when the girl said to him, ” I would love to have a picture with all of us.” She turned to me saying, “Would that be ok?” I said, “Of course!”
They went around the corner and called out to a woman. She was the girl’s mother apparently and the guy was the girl’s boyfriend. Both women took off their coats, (they were smart enough to have theirs with them) fussed with their hair, smoothed out their clothes and jewelry preparing for the picture. With gorgeous smiles of delight, the three of them huddled together looking fabulous through the iPhone lens capturing this moment for them. They walked away remarking at what a great picture it was and how happy they were to have it. They were all so grateful for such an easy gesture on my part. They were also able to enjoy my change in plans.
Grabbing my purse, I was drawn to another bench in the tropical garden. As I sat down and looked up through the flowers, trees and vines the sun’s rays flowed through the glass ceiling and covered me like a blanket. I sat soaking in the moment, thanking God for a change in plans.
Enjoying lunch and the gardens with my friend will happen another time. Today was the day for me to slow down, talk with God about the beauty of His creation, take a picture for some strangers, fill up my senses, shop at Trader Joe’s and wash my car.
May you receive every unforeseen opportunity of unscheduled time as a gift. There is a Presence working on your behalf willing to invite you into otherwise overlooked blessings. Allow pieces of your day to come together in ways seemingly impossible. It can all happen with an unexpected change in plans.
Thanks for stopping by.
Let’s make this a great year!