How does your garden grow?


Thanks for paying a visit to my plot – not the garden pictured here, I hasten to add, but rather my place of productivity and creativity as a poet/writer. In this summer season that speaks of growth, variety and fruitfulness in our surroundings, I would like to ask you a question:

How does your garden grow?

It’s that time of year when many of us are enjoying the fruits of our labours outside – after months of sweat and toil perhaps –  maybe gleaning our own home-grown produce, having a BBQ, relaxing, reading, or just basking in the sun (hopefully) and admiring our handiwork. Even if we lack a space of our own to call a garden, we can still admire and visit other people’s gardens and enjoy them second-hand instead.

Have you ever imagined your life as a garden?
That’s not as fanciful as it sounds. Life involves labour and toil, sweat and tears, joys and sorrows, heartache, pride and envy too sometimes when ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’.

What if you felt there was precious little in it apart from weeds?

Our tests and trials can feel very much like thick, tenacious weeds that choke the life out of us and appear to prevent any good thing from developing.

I have frequently felt like that about having M.E and other attendant long-term, chronic ill-health conditions over the last 20 years. For those who may have no idea what that could feel like (although many symptoms are unique to the individual in variety, intensity and persistence) then I tend to suggest it is like: ‘either going down with flu, having flu, or recovering from flu’.

Most of us can relate to that feeling to varying degrees – the weakness, pain, letargy, cotton-wool head horribly familiar. During a recent bad spell of M.E symptoms I found myself expressing how I felt in verse, as I am prone to do at times of intense emotion.

I hope the poem ‘Invasion’ below will help you understand a little about what an M.E sufferer can go through.

Still on the garden theme – sickness and disease can reflect those tenacious weeds and thorns that seem to spring up out of nowhere, invade the space, stifle the vitality of the growing plant, are so persistent and seem impossible to remove no matter how vigilant we are at trying to get rid of them. Our hope is that God may either teach us how to live with them or provide relief such as this verse describes:

‘Instead of the thorn-bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow’ ~ Isaiah 55:13a


Do I have M.E
or does it have me?
Snaking tendrils of pain
coil through nerves, muscles, sinews
joints and every fibre of being,
leaching energy from each cell,
until I am left wrung-out
like a discarded dishcloth.
Fiery darts attack at random,
invading, crippling, agonising –
Everything hurts.
Foggy clouds encircle the brain,
obscuring clarity
of thought and purpose.
Living in a limbo-land,
a living-death of exhaustion,
pain and weakness,
 as normal life passes by –
too bright, too fast, too alive
for me to join in with any ease.
Then a voice calls to me
in my dopey, yet sleep-elusive state;
A Voice of Love, of Calm, of Peace.
It is my Lord, reminding me
that I am His and He is mine
through every circumstance of life
and transcending them all.
Yes, I have M.E –
but it doesn’t have me –
God does;
so I am safe
in His arms.

17 thoughts on “How does your garden grow?”

    1. So pleased you liked it Lucy. I would be honoured for you to post it on your blog some time and hope it would reach and bless a wider audience of ME sufferers especially. Thank you!

    1. Thank you very much Marion for taking the time and trouble to read and respond. This poem came out of one of my darkest seasons and I am delighted and honoured to think that something the enemy meant for harm, God is now bringing good out of – praise His name!

  1. Hi Joy, thank you for this blog and for the honesty of your poem. As a fellow Jesus lover, and M.E struggler, it resonated deeply with me. I wonder how many of us have turned into pondering poets and dreamers because of this suffering. It certainly makes us stop and 'see' the world from a different stance and sometimes I'm grateful for the little things I've learned to see, whilst sitting and not be able to 'do'.

    Without those moments I would often have missed the inhabitants of my garden and their secret lives. I get great joy from watching a blackbird bathe in the birdbath and shiver the droplets through gleaming sunlight. Before I would have been dashing hither and thither and missed, what for me, have become magical moments.

    Thanks again for this beautiful poem.

    Every blessing


  2. Hi Kathy. I am really pleased that you were able to connect with the poem as it is not always easy to tell if I am writing them for myself or for a wider audience! So I'm delighted to meet with you here and share some of my experiences with someone who knows what I'm talking about.

    I agree that having M.E. often seems to unleash a creative outlet too. Taking time to ponder the larger issues of life, to pause and simply BE, is a wonderful blessing to arise from such an awful illness. Being 'in the moment' helps us engage better with where God is too.

    Too much of our lives are defined by activity or a perceived lack of it. I like to think my soul and spirit are free and lively even when M.E. chains me to the house most of the time.

  3. Hi Joy,

    I decided to write another comment to see if that works! The poem was lovely. A friend on facebook found it helpful too. She has chronic back problems and lives with a lot of pain.

    God bless you for writing it. I am so glad I've got to know you on Twitter! You are a blessing to me.

    1. Hi Lynda. Thank you very much for the kind comments. If my poetry reaches and speaks to others then that fulfils its purpose! As always, I am enabled, equipped and inspired by God to both write and share them.
      You are a real blessing to know too and I am grateful for your friendship and support.

  4. What a lovely expression of your pain and faith, Joy. You are truly joy by name and by nature; an inspiration to us all. Sam says you are not (yet) a member of ACW – his parenthesis, not mine. As Chair, and a long standing member, may I encourage you to think of membership? We had an excellent article on poetry in our latest magazine. I'm sure Sam could arrange for you to receive a copy.

    1. Thank you very much Mel.It is lovely that you have taken the time and trouble to read and leave such an encouraging comment. I am also honoured and humbled by the suggestion to join ACW. In fact, until the last few weeks, I could barely even admit that I loved to write things or was indeed a poet! But God had other ideas and clearly indicated it was time to share these thoughts/poems with a wider audience. I never anticipated the response this would provoke!

  5. Thank you, Joy. Your poem has really helped me understand better what sufferers of ME and similar conditions have to experience. I was particularly struck by the 'too bright, too fast, too alive' description of 'normal life' which makes it difficult to join in. That's important for us to know! Even through this your faith shines and it was a humbling experience to read.

    May the Lord continue to hold you and bless you with his love and care.

    1. Thank you Graham. It was birthed in a place of great pain and struggle, a season of trial and testing I could see no end to. Yet out of that came this very personal poem that seems to be a door through which others can glimpse the difficulties of living with M.E. and associated chronic illness.I am humbly grateful to God for giving me the words and to others who are benefiting from reading this poem. My purpose is always to glorify Him in all I do – out of gratitude for all He has done for me.

  6. How beautifully you express pain Joy! This is wonderful – I love the last bit. Isn't it a wonderful feeling to know that God holds us? Sometimes that alone is all that keeps me afloat in this world. Without Jesus, I'd surely be lost. Thanks again Joy – you are precious!

  7. All credit goes to God for bringing beauty out of the ashes of my experiences. I am pleased it spoke to you and that you could relate to the need to be held safely by the Lord – as in fact we all do, whether we recognise it or not. Without Jesus we would all be lost indeed. He alone can totally transform our pain and use it for His glory. Your friendship and support is precious to me too, Amanda. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a wonderful comment.

  8. Pingback: Run out of steam? - Words of Joy

  9. Pingback: Top Ten Posts in 2012 - Words of Joy

Your words matter. I'd love to hear from you.