Sunday, June 18, 2017

There's a Garden -- Eleanor Allen Schroll

She was a 42-year old woman originally from northern Kentucky (see map picture, on the Ohio border, perhaps near Covington), and was evidently an ardent pray-er. That much we know about Eleanor Allen Schroll, among only a few other details. We can surmise that she loved to pray, and imagined “There’s a Garden” (alternatively known as “The Beautiful Garden of Prayer”) as the spot where she most cherished this communication with her God.  Was it because that’s where she was most drawn to Him, where He had prayed so poignantly? (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22) Did she see in His own garden episode a Divine hurt that drew her trust, a presumption that He would be available to bear her emotional loads too? What is it the believer seeks most often in prayer, and could the same have been said of Eleanor?

Eleanor Allen Schroll is fairly anonymous but for a few details and the two songs attributed to her. Both songs came within a four-year span, including one (“He Lives”) in 1916 and her thoughts about garden praying in 1920. Whether she developed her faith as a consequence of the influence of parents (Isaac Allen and Ella Ros Allen) or through her husband (Henry Clay Schroll) or both is unknown. She may have had at least one sister, also (according to a picture showing perhaps her husband and a female that resembled Eleanor very closely in 1951). Many teachers of praying methods have proposed at least one way to think about a conversation with the unseen God, contained in the acronym ACTS. Adore Him first, Confess to Him next, offer Him Thanks after that, and then conclude with Supplications or requests for His intervention. Eleanor’s poetry indicates she had issues—‘burden and care’ (v.2)--she wanted Jesus to tackle, and that she felt He indeed offered ‘comfort’. Though undefined, Eleanor’s weight as a 42-year old woman could have been any of a variety of things – health, family, finances. So, she had the ‘S’ in ACTS in her mind apparently, but that wasn’t the entirety of Eleanor’s prayer. Instead, what comes across most in her poem is the desire to be with Him. Feel His presence in a beautiful, peaceful setting, knowing that the Creator longs to be a friend and protector there. We can assume the this poet-composer Adored, Confessed, and Thanked Him also, but her focal point seems to be His availability, His welcome to the person whose vision responds to Jesus’ contact.

‘He opens the gate’, Eleanor says. That’s not quite as illuminating as the God-son’s decision to wash feet, perhaps (John 13), but it presents Him in a light where I as a believer too infrequently see Him. I initiate prayer with Him every day. I need stuff; I need to tell Him I feel guilty; I want to express my gratitude, and tell Him I admire and am amazed at Him. What Eleanor says is that He coaxes me toward Him, as He pushes on that gate. He’s interested in me calling Him. He’s the Almighty, but He’s delighted to see me, as He waves me in and puts His arm around my shoulders. His invitation makes me feel valued. His attention is on little me! What a God, huh!   

The few biographic details of the composer were discovered at this site:   

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