Friday, August 19, 2011

Waiting....Watering....Not Easy.

The earth, the humus, has been broken open. The seeds, and the seed potatoes, have been planted in the fertilized ground. Is that all there is? Unfortunately not. There is no instant growth, neither in the physical world, or the spiritual world. In both world we have the four W’s. (A), We have to wait, (B), we have to watch, (C), we have to water, and (C), we have to weed. All the above are not just necessary, they are each essential for a healthy, productive garden, and a healthy spirituality. This demands effort, sacrifice, and sad to say, a great deal of patience, all bound together with no expectations.
Waiting, for most of us is very difficult. we want results, and we want them now. Nature says to us, " hold you horses", growth cannot be rushed. There is a process here that has to be followed. If that is not followed then the results are not going to be what was desired, or we were destined to be given. The birth of God's only Son was not rushed. Unexpected, yes, ask Joseph. Mary, like all women had to go through the usual nine months of pregnancy, in order to have a healthy Son. Jesus had to learn the slow process of becoming a good carpenter. He was not able to snap His fingers, and a table and chairs would just suddenly appear. Nope, He had to do it the slow way. Slow is good. So we wait in, "patient expectation", for "the harvest "to appear. While we wait we watch. While we wait we are given the opportunity to rest. Rest from our efforts and surrender to the secret action of grace. This action is invisible . Just as we watch the rows and rows before we , in the beginning see no results. Deep within the earth these is a miracle happening. The seeds as we have sewn them die, they have to. It is the law of nature. Out of that dying new life appears. Unless the seed dies it remains just a single seed, but it is the dying that an abundance appears. So it is with us in our inner life. Where there is no death, there cannot be resurrection and NEW life. The greater the death, the greater the resurrection gifts. This is a guarantee.

We keep a close eye on the garden. We will come to see that it will need, both water and weeding. The water is essential for growth. The weeding is essential, so that a healthy space is provided for growth to happen. When the weeding does not happen, then growth is choked off. Would it not be great if you had to water just once, and weed just once. That is just a pipe dream, nothing to do with reality.

My reality was we did not have an irrigation, or sprinkler system. Actually we did have one, it was named Joe. The garden was a distance from the water source. So it was necessary to draw the water from the source, in five gallon drums. Water is heavy, that I soon discovered. Yet in order for growth to happen, numerous trips had to be taken with those two five gallon drums. In Ireland you can have a Summer with only one fine day. Other years you would only get one wet day. Guess which Summers I was gifted with, the" one wet day" Summer. While I was able to enjoy the beach in Garryvoe, by day, I knew well what was before me each evening. The results were great. We had fine spuds for dinner, to go with the carrots and parsnips. There were tomatoes, lettuce, and onions to make a wonderful salad. As we enjoyed all the good healthy food, not much thought was given to those, five gallon drums.

As the years progressed I have had the opportunity to reflect on those days, weeks and months in the garden. So many authors and mystics use the analogy of , the garden, as the symbol of our souls. as it happens in the garden, so the same reality is within our souls.( Jesus when He taught used the analogy of a field.) We have been called by Our Creator-Father to be co-cultivators of our individually gifted gardens. We are called to cooperate within , The Master Gardner, in the sacred work of the cultivation of our souls. He will not do what has to be done without our cooperation. He cannot get done what He intends, without our cooperation. What trust and faith Our Shepherd Gardner has in us. What a awe-full gift free will is?? Look at what is now within our power. Just as He had to wait for Mary's great YES!, so He waits for our Yes for His creative plan to be realized. That is how much Our God loves us. We have been created out of His freedom, to live, if we so choose, a life of creative freedom.

Here I have to rely on St. Theresa of Avila. She was able to connect the action of watering a garden with four different stages of prayer That is going to be next week effort.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Preparing the Ground....Hard Work

Over the last three weeks we have dealt with the hardpan, rocks, and briars mentioned in the Lord's parable. These are al soul realities for both you and i. These realities are faced by all, who embrace the human condition. This embrace will happen as we make our journey as spiritual beings having a human experience.The above realities are not to be shunned or avoided.These conditions , on the contrary, are to be embraced with the same love our merciful, and gracious God showers upon them. This is a process. it is called reconciliation.It is also called acceptance. Acceptance of our reality, knowing if it is real our God is already at work bringing healing and wholeness, holiness, long before we are even aware of what is happening, or needs to happen. This is the very silent, and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit, the Power of love in our lives.Active denial , active avoidance,will result in us falling deeper into that which we so desperately wish to avoid and deny. There is no running away from who we really are.
Through the power of Love, Grace, we are slowly lead to the belief, and understanding that, low and behold, beneath the hardpan,rocks, and briars is revealed the good fertile earth. The good earth, our essential soul, is the gift of our Gracious Father God.This reality is, and I reiterate,Is, present in each and every human being. there are no exceptions to this reality.There is present in all humans an essential goodness. It is called the heart. The heart, our deepest reality, is the dwelling place of our God. There is that place which has never known sin, or devision. There The Holy Trinity dwells in a unity. We are all called to join them in their life of joyful, loving,unity. This is our destiny, our sole purpose, in this life, as we are prepared for the fullness of that Reality, in heaven.
For this to happen we are faced with hard work. It involves us coming face to face with our broken humanity. We are gently lead , always through grace, to accept that which we cannot do. We surrender all of that which we are powerless over, into the waiting, outstretched hands of Him with whom all things are possible. We have to be constantly reminder The Power of Love, God, is the essence of health. This loving Parent, Father, is not co-dependant. He/she will not do for us what we can do for ourselves.( I wish at times God was a little bit co-dependant.)This love we are lead to see, and believe, is both gentle and challenging.He knows well our weaknesses. He also knows the strength, that lies within us. It is he who has placed that strength within us as His gift to us. I was brought with that saying," God fits the back for the burden. St. Paul assures us we will never, and i repeat never, be teated beyond our strength. I have to remind God, he has more faith in me than i have in myself.In this way, our strengths are reinforced, and our weaknesses transformed into strengths. All of this happens through the miracle of the secret action of Grace. The Holy Spirit is one very quiet, very secretive operator.In the pre Vatican church The Holy Spirit was called, the forgotten person of The Trinity. Not so in to-day's church. I wonder whose work was that?
Now we have the good earth, a new kind of work begins. The earth must be broken open to receive the seed. In the old days there were no power driven machines to dig and spade the ground. The ground of our souls is broken open by the harsh realities of life, death, loss, failure, ill health, divorce, loss of jobs and hence security. The earth, in that garden, had to be broken one fork at a time.It was not easy work, to say the least. "What does not kill you, makes you stronger' i found to be so very true. I did not find that out until later in life. This was back breaking work, or was it back strengthening work?Still later I came to realize that which I was doing on the outside, was great schooling in what was, and is now happening in my inner life.Gardening, farming, is a wonder-full sacrament of what is always happening in the life we cannot see, or easily grasp. Growth in both lead us into a deeper understanding of darkness. It is in darkness all growth happens, right?In the darkness there is a necessary death, so that 'Much fruit may be produced" in abundance.
To jump ahead. The earth has been broken,and fertilized. The seeds, and seed potatoes are in the ground. Is the work finished? No, of course not. Now the work of caring for the garden begins. What happens in a garden has been used by so many spiritual authors to describe the happenings in our souls. Gardens and gardening, as has been mentioned ,are great sacraments. They lead us to deeper insights using what is seen to deepen our knowledge of that which is unseen.
A gardener has to be always alert to what is happening, or not happening. Weeds, that will choke off growth, must be watched for. For growth to happen there must be obviously sun light, and of course water. Water is an essential element in life. It is also essential for the life of the garden. Water for the garden, "water for our souls," where will that take us to?
Well, no pun intended, that will be, hopefully, next weeks effort.