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The Gardener

[caption id="attachment_3660" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP[/caption] Turning my calendar to September, I paused and wondered where the summer went.  I looked back over the past few months and remembered the different activities, celebrations, projects, vacations, and events of the summer and I give thanks to God.  It is good to stop now and then to look back on your life to see where God was with you in it all.  What were the highlights, the challenges, moments of grace, a deep sense of God’s presence or even perhaps a sense of remoteness from God?  Take a few moments, at the beginning of this month, to give thanks for what was and to look forward to what is unfolding before you.    Rather than focus on the upcoming Come and See Retreat or the other events coming up in our vocation ministry, I wanted to share with you a practice that I learned this past week.  This is a process that can open up your reflective side and creative juices.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I learned this at a conference where we used the writing process called "free writing" which is when you write rapidly for a period of time focusing on a topic or a picture as a catalyst for the writing.  If you choose, you can write from the perspective of the person, animal or object in the picture or you can write to that person, animal or object.  Quickly write without judgement or editing.  Then, read what you wrote and reflect on what it might mean for you. This is what we did.  Our instructor asked us to choose a picture as our catalyst for free writing.  So, we carefully walked around studying the pictures spread in spirals around the room. She directed us by saying, "Find a picture that speaks to your heart, pick it up, sit down and begin writing."  I was drawn to a photo of two elderly women tending a garden in what appeared to be an inner-city lot tucked between two buildings. Then, writing from the perspective of the women in the photo, this is what I wrote: I am the one who tends the garden.  A garden planted on the humus of human detritus, a compost of organic and inorganic materials.  I tend each plant and flower with love.  Some of the weeds I leave.  We all have weeds in our lives.  They keep the soil shaded and moist from the beating sun.  Every day we roll up our sleeves and cultivate this little oasis of hope and peacefulness amidst the despair, chaos and deadness of a city forgotten. We haven’t forgotten. We hope, we love, we laugh, we pray, we encourage.  We share tomatoes one by one and by the sack full.  Plastic sacks from the dollar store.  We fill them with tomatoes, squash, okra and herbs.  We fill the women’s minds with recipes and ways to use the herbs to bring out the flavors of the food.  We tell them they are kind, they are smart and that they are important.  We teach them how to create and savor good healthy food - so that their children may grow strong like the plants in this garden. I look out upon this garden and I see more than the plants above the ground.  In my heart I can see the roots of these plants that hold the whole together.  The roots grow down and out and become intertwined with those of other plants.  They support and sustain each other.  I hope and pray that this mystery growing under our feet is mirrored in the community of souls above this soil.  I pray that as we cultivate our plants, give away our vegetables and encourage the people who walk with integrity on this sacred soil that they too may sustain and support each other. Life, like a garden takes a lot of tending but it’s worth it. May we all be connected in this sacred web of life, of community, support and sustenance.  Let us be the gardeners that tend, create and connect to the Sustainer of all life, the Creator and Gardener of ALL. Next week we will have a Come and See Discernment Retreat at our Motherhouse in Akron, Ohio.  If you sense God is planting the seed of a call to religious life in your heart – why not come away for the weekend to listen and to nurture that call.  Be open to the harvest.

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