For the Ill and Aged, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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Lord our God, you have called our Sisters and Nuns to serve you and one another in love. Bless our sick Sisters and Nuns today so that they may bear their illness in union with Jesus’ sufferings and restore them quickly to health.

Bless those holy women who have grown old in your service and give them courage and strength in their faith as they approach your eternity.

Lead them all to eternal glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Image by Gaertringen from Pixabay 

Muddied Mobility

Those are Maria Morera Johnsons tootsies!

Several weeks ago when I mentioned to the therapist about the discomfort I was experiencing in my arthritic back and legs when going for walks, he unsympathetically looked me straight in the eye and said “Independence is based on mobility.” He wasn’t being mean or disrespectful, but placed a truth squarely in front of me. It was my choice. It’s just that simple and not that easy.

His words still echo with more than physical reference.

When I think of what he said as it pertains to my aching body, it’s pretty straight forward. No matter the discomfort, I had to face the challenge to get up and out. I guess this is what adulthood is about—choosing to do what we would rather not and doing it with lightness in the heart regardless of the discomfort or an opposing desire.

Mobility is essential to work a garden. I find myself looking at gardens I have tended and trying to figure out how to get back to the soil, back to the source of my contemplative self. I’ve been asking other Master Gardeners what or who they know about horticultural therapy. I want to know what is known about remaining active in an activity I love. What can I do to adapt?

At times I feel the significance of loss when I see the retreat center volunteers or gardeners in their eighties pulling weeds, dragging small limbs and planting flowers. I draw some comfort when they assure me it is my brain and not my back that matters now. I sense an urgency to share with them what I know about pruning, planting, and care of perennials, shrubs and trees. I fear that unless I impart what I know I will become a shadowing annoyance of inability. I am delighted to be near all these friends and the gardens, though I miss being in the garden.

This thought about limitations and independence is resonating on a spiritual and psychological level, too. I wonder what I am doing that creates limited mobility mentally or spiritually.

Mobility means movement, to change a location, to traverse a space. Some people can cover intellectual ground in such a way that they make it look effortless. Others, like me, move at a slowed deliberate pace. As if barefoot in the mud and unsure of what lies beneath, I know I can slide into a mess at any moment. My pace is so slow that I wonder if any significant movement is occurring at all.

After the echoing words of my therapist, I question how truly mobile my thoughts and prayers are. Am I bogged down in the muck of anxieties? Am I progressing as a Benedictine Oblate, as a monk in the world, or have I clung too tightly to my cloistered existence?

Independence is based on mobility and apprehension and tension are usually present when I move out of a physical, mental or spiritual comfort zone. I must choose to follow a desire that just may be outside my self, a desire that God has instilled. Part of the decision making includes recognizing and being honest about what I can and cannot do. To push the limit is one thing; to ignore it completely is to act in a way that can cause self harm. The goal is to challenge not to abuse, to gain strength and courage, not to deplete what reserve exists.

I have the desire to progress and recognize my limitations. I pray for the perseverance to move with the discomfort to another space. I’m getting used to being uncomfortable.

(2013)

Quiet Grace of Change in Nature

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Autumn moves in with its usual quiet grace. I took note the other day that the shrubs and trees have become peppered with color. I smile to myself and think of my own autumn-of-life with hair becoming peppered gray—and the next thing I knew, almost white! I had changed and like the trees, in due season and incrementally.

In Michigan, and throughout the Midwest, there are visual seasonable changes in nature. There are also expectations of what each season brings. The greening in spring and the coloring dormancy before winter, the migration of birds into a region and their eventual return to warmer climates as the temperatures drop, are just a couple of the things I know and anticipate each year.

I like the rhythm of it all, when everything is not always the same. This shift leads me to alter my perspective, to see things differently, to pray in different ways. The energetic prayers of springtime are not the same as those said during times of slowing down entering winter.

I find that age—young or mature—dictates my response to change. The sudden shifts that took place in my youth would be harder to manage these days. I like change in moderation and can adapt well with a show of grace. It is dramatic changes that are jolting; when the scenery becomes unfamiliar and uncertainty skews my view.

There was a time as an adult when I came to fully embrace Catholicism. It was then that I was jolted by the reality of my relativistic decisions as compared to the new scenery of faith, and found myself disoriented in my ethics.

The prayers of my early years, chronologically and spiritually, were vigorous, eager, and thrust unto the Holy with certainty of specified resolution. The prayers that I now pray are much less frenetic and are presented with fullness and patience. I have no less confidence that they are being heard, but my expectations of how they will be answered are less defined.

Like the gentle, slow and steady pace of changing leaves at the end of a season, my prayers are slowly spoken, and hopefully more graceful in their petition. Seasons change as do our lives and how we pray. We live in all our seasons with assurance of the rhythm—day by day, familiar with the pace.

 Image Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

10/12

To Change in Nature

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As we age we come to embrace on many levels the verse Jn 3:30, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

The gardens have become fewer and smaller as I’ve aged. The riot of color from spring’s thaw to late autumn’s freeze have given way to a simpler view of textures and shapes, under the boughs of trees.

I still work the gardens at a slower pace —ever careful of what could trip and cause a fall—and plan more for what is essential and when it really needs to be done. I’m growing comfortable with new normals and the minimizing of a once exuberant life.

I’ve become a reflection of my gardens—smaller and preferably off to the side in the shade.

The boldness of hosta leaves, the vibrancy of tree peony blooms, or the structure of an oak leaf hydrangea all have a life, but only in dappled light. Those plants, and many more, are not meant to be in the intense full sun. There are others better suited for that—to dance with the light and welcomed attention.

I think of shade gardens as a kind of whisper from the Creator calling me to be still, sit with him a while, and to look where his Light shines clearest. So, like many gray-haired types, I seek that distant shady spot from which to watch the busy freshness of life.

I’ve not felt that I’ve lost who I am, my identity as a gardener in this slow decline. Like my gardens I have transitioned and become more defined. My roots are still deep in the soil of faith, and nourished by the compost spread over time. Our Lord has whispered new ways to be all of whom this different ‘I am’ is, and I try to listen as best I can.

My attempts to write or create art are not done with the confidence of training—which at times is glaringly obvious. My approach is one of openness, more of a practice continued for God’s glory. It is he who prospers the works of my hands, and carries my efforts like dandelion fluff on a breeze.

I am content to still be his gardener spreading fewer seeds. We all have transmuted gifts, those that have changed in nature, though in essence we remained the same.

Image Pixabay.com. CCO Creative Commons

 

The Increasing Kindly Light of Lent

Geraniums morguefilesA couple of decades ago, while employed at a large retail greenhouse, I met a lovely woman 12 years my senior, whose company made the hours pass quickly. We often worked together in the hoop-houses — plastic greenhouses framed with aluminum ribs — at the back of the retail area. Those production houses were the hottest of all 20, being low and lacking adequate ventilation.

Each spring we’d spend 50 or more hours a week, often in 90-degree heat, hauling potting mix, containers and 200 feet of heavy hoses. We potted hundreds of perennials, filled thousands of flats with seedlings and for a million times a day bent our backs as we moved plants from work bench to floor.

We were once strong. As I drove to the nursing home to visit her, I thought of the increasing light of Lent, and wondered of her Easter, and the resurrection. Read the rest of the story at Aleteia.

Image courtesy morguefile.com

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