Gardens of the Heart

Psalm 1
Blessed are the man and the woman
who have grown beyond their greed
and have put an end to their hatred
and no longer nourish illusions.
But they delight in the way things are
and keep their hearts open, day and night.
They are like trees planted near flowing rivers,
which bear fruit when they are ready.
Their leaves will not fall or wither.
Everything they do will succeed.
Translation by Stephen Mitchell

Gardens have been much on my heart and in my mind of late.  Perhaps this is because our Sunday worship is in a garden; perhaps because of the vibrancy of the colors of the late summer flowers; perhaps because of the lushness of the fruits and vegetables of the summer harvest.  Whatever the reason, I know that gardens are important to our understanding of God and our experience of Christian faith.  Human existence begins in a garden.  Jesus prayed in a garden the night before his crucifixion.  The empty tomb of the Resurrection was in a garden.

Like a garden, our souls need tending and nurturing.  Prayer, meditation, the Sacraments and the word of God in Scripture all nourish our souls.  We are created beings who are more closely linked with creation than we often realize.

We are fortunate at St. Mary’s to be in the midst of magnificent gardens and amazing natural beauty.  The historic Afton Town Square Park, Carpenter Nature Center, Afton State Park, St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park and even our own Memorial Garden offer beautiful trees, flowers and landscaping to reconnect us to God and creation.  And I know that many of you have attractive yards and gardens at your own homes.

Take some time this summer to “stop and smell the roses.”  Explore the gardens and landscapes of the St. Croix Valley, or the natural beauty of the state and regional park system.  Turn off the air conditioner and open the windows of your home or automobile to let in the sounds and smells of creation.  Tend your soul so it too may grow and flourish in the love of God and the glory of God’s creation.  Store up the energy of the sun for the fallow season of winter that is all too close at hand.

As you enjoy the created beauty of the world, take a moment to reflect on our relationships with the whole of creation.  Below are some reflections on those relationships by others.  Perhaps you will be able to add your own experience of nature to the list.  Enjoy, and God bless you.

“The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.”

— Thomas Moore

“There is a little plant called reverence in the corner of my soul’s garden, which I love to have watered once a week.”

— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Grant me the ability to be alone,
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grasses
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
that I belong to.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav

“I thank You God for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.”

— e.e. cummings

First Nations Kitchen Ministry Opportunity

A Faith-in-Action Commitment for St. Mary’s

First Nations Kitchen is a ministry of All Saints’ Episcopal Indian Mission in Minneapolis and has been serving healthy, organic, traditional indigenous food in a welcoming, family environment every Sunday evening since 2008.

In the First Nations Kitchen model, volunteers prepare different entrées each week.  Guests choose which entrée they would like.  Those volunteers who prepare and serve the meal are welcome to eat with the guests.  In this way, participation becomes interaction and relationships can begin to develop. 

Dinner prep starts at 1:30 pm and clean-up usually ends before 7:30 pm.  We will share the various duties with St. Luke’s – Minneapolis congregation, splitting either prep time (1:30 – 3:30 pm) or serving time (5 – 7:30 pm) with members from St. Luke’s.

St. Mary’s is signed up for either a food-prep shift or a serving shift at First Nations Kitchen on the following dates in 2020:

  • February 23 — Prep: starts at 1:30 pm
  • April 19, — Serve: starts at 4 pm
  • August 23 — Prep: starts at 1:30
  • October 25 — Serve: starts at 4 pm

Let Deacon Maureen know if you are interested in participating in this ministry.  Add the dates to your calendar now.  She’ll send out reminders as well.  

The Royal Banners Forward Go!

Cross BannerPentecost Sunday, May 19, marks the culmination of work by our children born out of faith formation activities led by Sharon Lewandowski and  Linda Wallace.  Supporting help came from Jim Wallace, Susan Horn, Tom Hitchcock, Nancy Rotramel, Dar Cran, Carolyn Campfield and others.  At the 9 am service the children will process in with banners they made over the past eight weeks and show you their artwork inspired by St. Mary’s beautiful windows.

We are grateful to all who have stepped forward to engage with our children this year in a variety of ways.  The results are inspiring.

Children’s Banner Project

Cross BannerThe banners are coming! The children of St. Mary’s have been learning about the meaning of the liturgical colors and symbols. They are transforming what they have learned into beautiful, colorful banners that the children will carry in procession on Pentecost Sunday, May 19.

Between now and then, teaching/banner-making sessions will take place alongside adult formation the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month. This is a fun, engaging project; a great opportunity for our kids to learn and to create something meaningful and tangible they will take home and enjoy. It builds nicely on the church window project led by Sharon and Karon and Godly Play lessons led by Nancy and Dar.