19 August 2012

Weekly devotions from the Visitation Sisters

Live -- Jesus!

Salesian Thoughts for the Week of August 19th, 2012

Our Life in the Garden

          St. Francis de Sales opens the Preface to the Introduction to the Devout Life with the image of a garden:

My dear Friends, I ask you to read this preface both for your benefit and for mine. Glycera, a bouquet maker, was so skillful at working with flowers that out of the same flowers for the same garden she could fashion many different kinds of bouquets. The painter Pausias, who wished to paint all her different arrangements, was unable to do so. He could not vary his paintings in as many ways as Glycera did her bouquets.

We live in a garden. Vegetables and flowers grow in beauty and abundance within the monastery enclosure.

St. Francis de Sales' reflection on the variety of flowers available to the industrious Glycera suggests multiple analogies, but for this Sunday morning, let's say that the different flowers in our garden, their colors, their heights, their scents, represent our sisters in community, or the members of a family, or a group of friends, or even the Church: different flowers, different looks, different needs and expectations, and all of us growing together. God chooses how tall we get, our colors, what birds or insects we attract. He arranges us into nosegays appropriate to the season. We are each perfect for the place we occupy in our garden and bouquets.

Last April, we planted a garden around the statue of St. Joseph, but extreme weather affected its growth. The garden we got was not the garden we had expected. Some plants couldn't take the storms. Some could not bear the sun. Some died of heat prostration and some of mildew. The sturdy purple coneflowers faded to transparency in the almost equatorial sun. The zinnias died of rain. But the goldfinches, cardinals, hummingbirds, and butterflies have paid no heed. They and their songs are the graces in our garden.

The garden God gave me is more beautiful than the one I tried to impose in our courtyard--as is my community. It is not what I expected it to be when I entered this House almost 30 years ago--God and extreme weather have made us into a garden we could never have imagined. May God be praised.

Mada-anne Gell, VHM
Georgetown Visitation Monastery


AC said...

Thank you, dear Sister Mada-anne, for your lovely reflection. I like your last paragraph best. Fourteen years ago when I moved here to Houston, TX, I felt as though I had entered the biggest, hottest desert of my lifetime -- and I wasn't happy about it at all. But oh, the garden that grows here, which I finally began to see right in front of me, thanks be to God -- ah yes, much more beautiful than I ever could have imagined, as you so perfectly put it.

Hope all is well with you and all your dear Sisters. You are in my prayers daily!

With love,

Alice Claire Mansfield
Consecrated Virgin
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Linda said...

God be praised indeed! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing these thoughts.... can't wait for more!