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CUT! Jenn … You are doing great. I know this is difficult. Let’s take a moment.
I stood alone on the stage, weeping. This was the third time I had performed this scene, due to changing camera angles, and I very much wanted it to be over. My wonderful Director, Ken Carpenter, was gentle and understanding—expertly leading me through the gripping scenes of my upcoming Fathom Event film, Come to the Garden On Stage!
Sigh … life is hard. Life hurts. This might sound strange but, honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way, because it is in those hard, hurting times that I have experienced the overwhelming grace and love of God. This is the reason why I included this difficult scene in my screenplay, which is an adaptation of my best-selling novel, Come to the Garden.
Yes. Life does hurt. I experienced health problems and surgery as a young girl. I suffered from infertility. My first marriage failed. My precious uncle committed suicide and thirty years later, my dear seventeen-year-old nephew did the same. My sweet friend unexpectedly lost her full-term baby. I have aging parents that I dearly love … I so wish I could halt the relentless march of time.
Goodness … it is a miracle that I can wake up and get out of bed with a smile on my face, ready to greet a brand new day. But that is the miracle, because I do! The hindsight I have earned after living fifty-some years of life has revealed that God has been present in even the most desperate of trials—in the embrace of a friend, in a comforting Scripture, in the laughter of a child, in the tender smile of my husband, in the meals delivered by my church family, in the gentle nuzzle of my dog as I cried a river of tears, in the beautiful sunsets and sunrises that whisper “I am still here.” What a blessed relief it is to know that truly, we are never alone, no matter what we go though in our lives.
We are never alone. I took to the stage in this unique film event in order to share the hope and healing of God’s very personal presence in our lives with you, and to encourage you to share this life-changing truth with others. And I have never been alone in this endeavor. From day one, God has faithfully opened doors, providing the assistance of some very special and talented people who also recognize this beautiful truth and wanted to help me share it … Oscar winning Actor Louis Gossett, Jr., Emmy Award winner and Today Show host Kathie Lee Gifford, faith comedienne Chonda Pierce and author of The Shack, William Paul Young. Each one of these precious people has a very personal story of how God has shined His light of grace into the midst of their darkest trials and deepest struggles, and were very gracious in their willingness to help me share this truth with our broken and hurting world.
Even though Come to the Garden On Stage! is a one-woman show, I was never alone on the stage. The voice performances of Lou (voice of God), Chonda (angel Margaret) and Kathie Lee (scripture and song) … surrounded me like a collective embrace—their love for God and for humanity walked with me throughout the entire performance. And oh, I so needed that embrace, for as I poured out my heart and life story on the stage, I was grieving terribly.
Just two weeks before my performance, my beloved dog and faithful companion, Cody, passed away from early congestive heart failure at the age of seven. He had been at my side from the very beginning of this Come to the Garden adventure, is a featured character in my book and also has a small role in my stage show. I was so busy with script adjustments and rehearsals that I tried desperately to lock my grief inside me as best I could so that I could focus on my work. As the show date grew near, I really wasn’t sure how I would be able to hold it together in front of hundreds of people, knowing I would be sharing about several sad and difficult events in my life.
But, when I stepped out onto the stage the night of my performance on February 12, a miracle happened. Love walked out onto that stage with me … in the heart-stirring music of Tyler Michael Smith … in the voices of my friends Lou, Kathie Lee and Chonda … in the smiles and compassionate tears of an enraptured audience … in the dedication of a crew that performed each of their jobs so seamlessly I barely knew they were there … and in the arms of William Paul Young as he wrapped me in a long hug just before our post show Q&A/discussion.
Every single heart in that room was engaged in this evening of celebrating how very much we are loved by the One who promises us we will never be alone. That night, my grieving heart was flooded with an inexplicable peace that assured me that I was not alone in that room … not as a performer, and not as as a beloved child of God suffering from a broken heart. This peace allowed me to share my story with joy. Yes, there were tears, but my spirit was filled with the joy that can only come from the knowledge that God’s sustaining grace is always present the midst of our pain and grief.
Be assured, beloved, that, just as God literally walked with me in my garden on stage, so He will walk with you, wherever you may go.
“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 joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” ~ C. Austin Miles
Jennifer Wilder Morgan is the author of the best selling novel Come to the Garden. On May 3, 2016, her book will be transformed into a feature-length stage show cinematic event in select U.S. cinemas, presented by Fathom Events and Eakin Films. To learn more about Come to the Garden On Stage! and to purchase tickets visit
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