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Single Serving:
In the Garden:
A review of a song sung
At the Funeral of Buck Owens
by psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka, Dr. BLT

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses
and the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses...

and he walks with me, and he talks with me
and He tells me I am His own
and the voice we share
as we tarry there 
none other has ever known...

It's deeply precious, deeply spiritual and deeply personal song.  Moreover, I've never heard such an intimate, poignant, heartfelt rendition of this old hymn as the one delivered by Dwight Yoakam at the funeral of legendary country star, Buck Owens on April 2, 2006 in my hometown (and Buck's hometown of Bakersfield, California).  There is no way to overstate the beauty of the hymn, In the Garden, a timeless classic penned by Charles Austin Miles way back in 1913.  Furthermore, there is no way to overstate the impact of this particular rendition.    

Regretfully, I actually missed hearing the song in person because I was late for the funeral.  But my wife and I recorded it and I watched it later that night.  Dwight's performance of the song was so transforming and transporting that it really didn't matter much where or when one heard it.  From the moment he sang the first note, it was as if there was no space and there was no time, only the "peace that passeth all understanding," and the comfort that can only be bestowed upon one’s soul by the intimate presence of the divine Savior, Jesus Christ our lord.  
Here's the story behind the inspiration for the hymn, spoken by Miles himself: 
"I read the story of the greatest morn in history.  The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, while it was yet very dark, unto the sepulcher.  Instantly, completely, there unfolded in my mind the scenes of the garden, where out of the mists comes a form, halting, hesitating, tearful, seeking, turning from side to side in bewildering amazement.  Falteringly, bearing grief in every accent, with tear-dimmed eyes, she whispers, 'If Thou has borne Him hence.' He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.  He said to her, "Mary!" "Just one word and forgotten are the heartaches, the long dreary hours, all the past blotted out in His presence."  
Every garden, if it is to be a fruitful garden, requires solicitous care.  Christ is the great, gracious gardener, and our lives are the gardens of the soul that he tenderly and solicitously cares for.  Sometimes weeds threaten to choke out the beautiful plants and flowers.  Our weeds are our weaknesses, our trials and tribulations, our struggles, and our temptations.  Some weeds are stubborn and resistant to efforts to eradicate them---like past trauma, for example.  Trauma of any kind has the effect of immobilizing us even as we seek to grow.  In the ideal world, personal growth and development is progressive, predictable, and linear.  

In actuality, developmental growth is not linear, we advance, regress, advance, and regress.  Sometimes it actually feels like we’re taking two steps backwards for every one step we take forward.  Nobody understood this dilemma better than St. Paul, who depicted the struggle as a struggle between the flesh (which operates on what Freud described as primary process) and the spirit (which Freud, sadly, left out of the equation).  The flesh demands instant gratification.  

That’s where the gracious gardener comes in.  We cannot bear fruit, and thus fully grow and develop and psychologically and spiritually whole individuals, without His grace, His guidance, His weeding, His pruning and His sustenance.  

In the Garden leads us to the gracious gardener, and allows the listener to visit the garden of His grace.  Miles’ poignant penning and Yoakam’s deft delivery of a song that must have been breathed directly into Miles’ ear by God Himself brought Buck’s funeral to life.  


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