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

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