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
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
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.