Just Keep Going

 

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We all get cut back a bit through life, sometimes a little more like a prune than a pinch.

I often find the greatest truths in the simplest garden lessons.

The begonia is an amazing plant…it just keeps going along and blooming, and when cut back, it starts up again.

~ Gladys Taber

The Angel Wing begonias are a lesson in humility. They too start up again when cut back and hide their beauty beneath their wings.

Image by Heidel Bergerin at pixabay.com.

 

 

Covering Ground, Unwilling to be Barren

6F6A3033Had I still been using a typewriter, there would be a pile of balled up, partially typed pages surrounding my desk. I thought I had a good piece written, but then not quite. It was reworked, altered, I paraphrased another writer, tried to add wit which only seemed forced, moved paragraphs…no, lead sentences…no…start again.

I thought this column would be about barren ground, earth laid fallow and exposed. I wanted to tell you about how it’s not natural to create an unproductive and sterile land. That nature wants to protect itself. Gardeners and farmers know that exposed soil is soon covered by plants. All manner of seeds fall to the ground and take hold. The seeds sprout, their roots secure the soil, and the ground is protected from the ravages of sun and wind.

I wanted my column to lead you into reflecting why we at times are not being fruitful. But all my words lacked depth, sounded trite and fell short in a way that was embarrassing.

I left my desk and sat before the home altar where I prayed and read. I went to Adoration and offered to God the few words that I had printed out and carried there. I tried to be open, to be still and calmly wait. I sat in the upholstered chair with the dog. I stared out the window. I returned to my desk and stared at the monitor.

All that I had were snippets of thoughts, disconnected and dispersed, and an imagined pile of wadded up paper strewn around my feet.

I found that I felt like the fallowed ground in my unproductive metaphor. My nature doesn’t want to be fruitless and barren, not even for a day. I feared that if I were idle for too long the winds of change would blow hot and carry away what was fertile ground, leaving me exposed as nothing more than the proverbial Dust Bowl.

I want to be fruitful…so add yet another blank sheet to my digital “typewriter.” Words or weeds, they both cover ground eventually.

Image by Mariask courtesy morguefile.com.

(1/23/13)

Mother has the Patience of a Saint

Soloman's seal and cross

Solomon’s seal and cross

Silently she stands, peering at me from around a tree as I slog my way through the project. She’s been waiting for me to complete her rose garden.

I started it the beginning of May, the month dedicated to our Holy Mother. The idea for a Marian rose garden didn’t originate with me, it was by request. The thought of attempting to garden again was a challenge to how I’ve come to see myself with physical limitations. It felt like a dare, and I usually don’t respond to those. Taking on this project would mean learning about patience and moderation so there would be minimal aches from my Mary behind treearthritic spine.

Moving forward a lot of prayers were offered as I struggled to let go of expectations. Tasks I had done in less than thirty minutes now took the better part of a day, and a day in between to recover. Prayer also supplied endurance to persevere—and needed materials.

One expectation that had to be let go was that the garden would be completed by Mother’s Day. I now hope for the end of the month, on The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, May 31.

The next phase was to deal with the sod, and then plant the roses. I fussed for a few days on the placement of the bushes, finally deciding the order of the roses should be white/Joyful Mysteries, red/Sorrowful Mysteries, yellow/Glorious Mysteries, and last purple for the recently added Luminous Mysterious—the sorrowful being embraced on each side with joy and glory.

There is still more to do.

Next was trenching out the sod for the edging of bricks—those lovely, now clean treasures! The bricks will provide an edge for the lawn mower wheel to ride over, eliminating the need to trim the grass. edger flippedHaving learned earlier the benefit and ease of using an electric edger, I repeated the process, cutting two lines around the bed in the width of the bricks. I found the cultivating hoe was perfect for rolling up strips of sod. Over the course of a couple of days I was ready for ground cloth and mulch.

cutting edging brickscutting edging pulling strip

 

 

 

 

 

 

To lay the ground cloth, secure the material with U-shaped landscaping pins at the farthest edge and unroll to the other end, leaving about two inches extra at each end. The material will usually blow around, so I used a brick to hold a portion in place while I worked my way across the bed. Slide the cloth up onto the sod/soil and cut a line partially across the material so it will go around a bush. When you figure the cloth is far enough up, cut an X and fold the flaps under so the cloth encircles the bush. Pin the split in place and move on to the next plant. Repeat the process for the next course of ground cloth, allowing a three inch overlap on top of the previous row. Pin in place. It took three courses of material to cover my garden area.

Trim back the extra cloth allowing an extra two inches or more to lie under a flat edging; in my case, the bricks. If you are using a vertical edging you’ll leave only one inch and slide the ground cloth between the edging and the soil on the garden side.

Next week, the finishing touches.

I made poetry stones, too!

(All images by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB. All rights reserved.)

Seeds of Wisdom from Saints and Curious Sinners

thumbnailIt’s one of my procrastination techniques.

I need to get blog posts written before I get a project back from my editor that’ll need all my attention.

Instead, I’m rummaging.

It began innocently enough. The little cubbies of my desk were stuffed, layered with dust and tiny paper tabs from spiral notebooks that looked like cookie crumbs.

I tossed the old notes and greeting cards, and cardstock bookmarks, but there was a good sized handful of quotes, written on scraps of paper, that I wanted to keep. Which took me to the files…too many files. And then I wanted to find the envelope with all the little sweet comments written from friends.

I sifted through boxes and drawer after drawer—picking at this, reading that, pulling starters for columns—and not coming up for air until three hours later. What was I thinking?

Indeed, what was I thinking? When rummaging we look with an intent of finding something. Often going back to the same place a couple of times, certain that “it” is there, somewhere, we are sure of it.grouping

It was a surprise to find multiple folders—in two drawers—tabbed as something spiritual. And to find within the folders hundreds of prayers, sayings, Bible quotes, insights, pages torn from Magnificat, tiny brochures, instructional booklets—some in triplicate in different locations—and handwritten 3×5 cards dated some twenty-five years ago. A Holy accumulation of impressive size!

I was searching, yes, and avoiding what I had to do, but why…for what?

A few days ago I had driven along farm lanes to the country church for morning Mass. There are only the four of us regulars. Walking in the nave was dark, altar candles unlit, and my three compatriots were absent. It wouldn’t be the first time that only Father and I shared communion. I waited and prayed as I watched the sunlight move across the stained glass of Jesus depicted kneeling against a rock, the Agony in the Garden.

As the tower bells rang out, and still no priest, I knew Mass would not be celebrated. I was caught off guard by my tears—no communion, no Jesus. I hungered for the Eucharist. It was too late to go into town and receive at another church. Reluctantly I stepped out of the pew and stood looking to the crucifix a few moments longer. Driving home I prayed the priest was okay…and felt sad.

Not so many years ago, before my reversion, it never occurred to me that people could hunger for Mass. This day I discovered that during those years of coming home I was rummaging for God.

In my seeking I gathered words and thoughts that guided. Incremental scraps tucked in a dozen different places, seeds of wisdom gleaned from saints and curious sinners. I stored them away for anticipated days of winter, those times of darkness when my soul would be adrift.

grouping 2My decades long rummaging was not a wide eyed scanning of places “it” could be found. But more like the hand in the drawer feeling about back in the corners, shoving things aside, a little frantic at the not-finding-the-sought.

And about my procrastination day? Well, I think I am still searching for a few lost keys.

All images by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB. All rights reserved.

A Walk through the Garden

For those of you taking your daily walk through the beautiful prayer garden that is Margaret Realy’s blog post, you may notice a different gardener today. As Margaret is on retreat for a few weeks, she has very kindly allowed me to help tend to her garden while she is away.

In the garden

Image courtesy Marty Rymarz.

As an Oblate novice at the same monastery as Margaret, I have been blessed to become friends with her and see her daily blogs. For me, reading her daily post is not unlike taking a leisurely stroll through my local greenhouse in the spring. There, I see many beautiful flowers starting to bloom, waiting to be taken home and planted where they will grow and flower further. Margaret’s daily prayers are inspired flowers of thought that I take with me each day and allow them to germinate in my mind and flower in my soul. Like the lilies and petunias in the greenhouse, some of Margaret’s prayers are perennials and some are annuals. Some will stick with me year after year while others flower brilliantly for a time and may fade away with the season.

It is the loving embrace of God’s light and warmth that allows these flowers to blossom and our prayers to bloom to their full beauty.  A little seed that looks insignificant and gets tenderly planted in the soil may eventually blossom into a beautiful flower. Another type of seed may produce the vegetables that feed us. Though unseen, these seeds are quietly but faithfully striving upwards, ever upwards, towards heaven, until one day, they burst forth from the earth, straining towards the sky and the sustaining power of the Son.

So it is with God’s word and the prayers of others for us. These start as a little seed in our soul that can be covered for a time in the dirt of our concupiscence. Our daily prayers and contemplation give these seeds of our soul the water and warmth they need to grow.  They may manifest themselves, flowerlike, as a beautiful smile that we share with a stranger or a helping hand that we lend to those in need. They may also bloom as succulent fruit and healthy vegetables to feed our own spiritual needs when we minister to those in need. Our job, as gardeners of Jesus, is to cultivate these seeds, while pulling the daily weeds that can so easily sprout, until these seeds grow and others may appreciate the beauty of them as they are reflected not only in our words, but more importantly, in our actions.

So on this day, as we have taken the time to walk through this prayer garden, do we also take time to gaze in childlike awe at the beauty of God’s creation in both this garden and in the beauty of each other’s souls? Do we truly strive to see Jesus in everyone we encounter? For if we did, if we sought to see Christ in both our friends and those who challenge us, we would truly be living in a modern day Garden of Eden. And that garden, my friends, would not be a bad place to live until we reach that final destination that we know, as Christians, is the loving eternal communion with our Father in heaven.