Monday, September 22, 2008

Sr. Cathy Anne's Gardening Retreat Continues...


For everything there is a season, 
And a time for everything under heaven;
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant,
 and a time to pluck up what is planted.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2

The activities of the fall season tell me that my life is changing. That nothing stays the same. This is a time when we are all called to change, to let go, to move on, but also to celebrate the gifts/fruits that we have in such abundance in our lives and in our spiritual practices. I like to step back and make a “gratitude list.” I look at my gifts, at how I share them to build the kingdom of God, and how I can “go with the flow.”
In the garden the produce continues to ripen and needs to be harvested. The tomatoes, green bean, green peppers, and the squash are still going strong, and as long as I keep watering, the produce keeps coming. The fall flowers are vibrant with color, the asters, mums, and coleus display their dynamic hues and textures. Daily I am in awe of the power of our Creator God. In quiet reflection I see that as in the garden my life is full and rich. Gal. 5:22 sites for us the Fruits of the Spirit, (love, peace joy, patience, faithfulness, kindness, generosity, gentleness and self-control), and I am daily challenged to continue to share those spiritual fruits that, like my vegetables, keep coming. So, with great joy I spend time praying, thinking, and dwelling in the fact that it is my relationship with God that really fills my heart and my being with the peace.
I have heard many people use the phrase “the autumn of our life,” in a negative context. The reference to the time of retirement, of the loss of a spouse, and of the change in living conditions can stop some people in their tracks. True, this can be a very difficult time for many people. But our lives, like nature, must follow the design of the Creator. Around us we see the leaves changing, the wind’s direction shifting, and the days getting shorter. As the fall season progresses I find myself cutting back flowers, and pulling out plants. But on the positive side I find myself redefining the “bones” of the garden (In gardening terms the “bones” are the elements that give the garden structure). I plant bulbs, and put in new perennials; I’m tilling up sod to make a new plot, and turning the compost to improve the soil. In my own life, I have changed the way I exercise, I need more sleep, and my hobbies and interests have shifted.

Spiritually, I’m still reading the Gospels, praying the Psalms, and Journaling. Through all of this I can see the hand of God working. As too, in a Benedictine community, the bones of the community include our vows. The vow of stability says that I will live my life in this particular community, (my home is here in Beech Grove), this specific group of Sisters is my chosen family, and eventually one day I will be buried on these hallowed grounds. These are the things that give my life meaning, that define who I am.

In conclusion I must acknowledge that life is God’s gift to me, and that death, too, is a part of the normal human experience. We all will die. Because of our faith we know the gift of the resurrection. Life goes on. Yet there is a time of mourning

In prayer I say, Lord, help me to prepare for the barren seasons of my life. I may be active now but who knows what may lie ahead? Let me remember what this feels like, to be in my prime, to be doing all I want to do and to be happy with the world around me. Guide me in what ways are best to be ready for times less beautiful, and remind me always of your presence.

“It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;Yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can rest in its shade.”
Mark 4: 31-32


Anonymous said...

Dear Sister Nicolette,
Thank you for sharing Sister Cathy Anne's writing. Very appropriate as we transition to Fall.The photo of the chair in the yard is stunning!

Anonymous said...

I think the pumkins fit into this wrighting very well.

E beth