While I was away the woman who lives downstairs, Linda, with whom I’ve shared this house for over 25 years, had done her best to follow the list of daily tasks for the care of the flowering pots and small veggie patch. She is not a gardener although she’s always loved the yard.
Since 2008 I’ve attended the Catholic Marketing Network trade show with the Catholic Writers Guild. It is always held mid summer—the gardens are at their peak, produce is ready for picking, and temperatures are high and rainfall minimal.
Every year in eager anticipation of meeting up with writing and publishing friends, for about ten days I leave the gardens in the hands of my housemate. Some years she manages fairly well, other years failed horribly—at least the dog and cat survive.
This year, as always, the trip was wonderful. The time spent on the road was challenging because of my worsening arthritic spine, but the hours on the road were lightened by the company of my dear friend, Ann Lewis. We knew this would be the last year of my help to drive the equipment to the conference.
There were emotional and spiritual challenges too. I felt called to remain in the upstairs hermitage; to pray fervently for the souls of the Planned Parenthood predators, for those involved in the genocide of Christians, and for souls lost to the insanity of homicide and suicide—there were so many prayers to be said.
I’m glad I went to the conference instead. The company of others, their laughter, love and hugs lifted my spirits. My face was sore from smiling!
Once home, I saw my housemate had had a tough go of it all, but she had managed. She too is aging. I was, and still am, grateful for her efforts.
She had taken care of the vegetable patch fairly well, regularly picking the tomatoes, cukes, and zucchini. The vines had not been trained to the trellises while I was away and were overgrown, entangled with the abundant weeds.
The numerous containers of geraniums and petunias had dried back hard on more than one occasion. The copious blooms were partially shriveled and a good third of the leaves were brown and crunchy.
I was amazed at how many weeds had grown in the cracks of the drive, in the stones of the path, and between the trees and shrubs. I hadn’t been gone that long!
For the two days since I’ve been home, and probably for another three, I’ll be cleaning things up. While doing so I look for the lesson of faith in this ordinary effort.
And what I find is a sense of being entrusted.
There are times in my eremitic life of prayer when I must step away from overwhelming events. Events so dark that they can, at times, block the Light. When this happens I turn to others to help me slog through evil, to help sort and order the chaos blocking my efforts.
In my turning to others for the care and feeding of my soul, I realized that they do their best but it is my responsibility to keep in order those things to which I have been entrusted. It’s not up to them to maintain my garden of faith and only if they are willing, to help me along until I am again fully present to nourish, water, and remove the debris that suffocates the soul.
With gratitude I thank them for holding spiritual ground as I am allowed to stand, take a deep breath and then kneel to begin again.
Image by Margaret Rose Realy Obl OSB. All rights reserved.