The Marian rose garden is completed. With my arthritis, I thought the days of kneeling on soil were over. The plan was to be prayerful and attentive to whatever lessons were presented along the way, but at times I fell into an ego-centered and willful urgency to complete the garden quickly.
At the beginning of May I blogged about starting a process that was filled with trepidation.
Standing on the drive looking at the outlined garden I am overwhelmed. Part of me does not want to reawaken what I’ve loved and laid to rest—a life of working among gardens. I doubt my ability, stamina, strength. I want to take the roses back to the garden center.
I look to the small statue of Mother Mary at the back of the yard, and whisper “Hail Mary” and know she is near—she always is when we call. I tell her my heart’s still in it even though my spine is not. While waiting for peace to return, I realized that that was exactly what I needed to do—wait.
The first lesson was patience. In learning to be patient with myself in this new-normal way of life, I found an ease in waiting for others—able bodied or not—to accomplish tasks or services that before would have had me clasping my pocket rosary to offer up frustration.
The next lesson was trusting providence. It seemed like a small thing, wanting to use bricks for the border, and ended as a lesson in blessed serendipity. I still smile at the thought that twenty-some years ago bricks had become hidden and, in the economy of God, resurfaced as a gift for his mother.
Working my way through the garden installation was slow and at the same time encouraging in that my experiences as a gardener had come full circle: how to work wisely using less physical effort. In the past few years I had come to see myself with limitations and the lesson that came in the third week was gentleness and letting go of expectations.
And then I faltered, and lost sight of ora et labora, and the offering of myself made in April to an appropriate pace. Instead, and foolishly, one morning . . .
. . . I prayed to persevere and work steady at putting down the ground cloth, bricks, and the next day all of the mulch. Even though it is a small garden, I was laid low for days. That prayer has been acknowledged as pure pridefulness and lack of humility. Like patience, one should pray carefully and specifically about fortitude. The lesson of ignoring moderation cost me time in bed. . . . I encourage others with physical limitations to not be as rash. The gaining of patience is learned through trials. Gaining the grace to persevere is learned by a steady pace through difficulty, not by a bull-headed charge to the other side!
I don’t want to say it was a hard lesson—for there had been others more difficult—but rather an emphatic one. We often practice humility in the acts of knowing what we can do. Humility is also learned in accepting gracefully what cannot be done.
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When the location for the garden was selected it was because that was the only place in the yard where it could be situated, and it would be lovely too look at from the back porch. In the past few weeks I’ve discovered the comforting view of the statue from the oratory windows, the kitchen, and even through the stockade fence when I pull in the drive.
I’ve enjoyed how reassuring it is to see the little statue in the sunlight and be reminded that Our Holy Mother is always that close. At times when I’ve walked past I’ve brushed my hand over the top of its head and leaned against it, as if being sweet with a small child.
I had not anticipated the joy I would find after having moved the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the shaded back of the yard into the light. So it seems that is the final lesson in creating the Marian garden.
Keep our Holy Mother ever before us and the comfort of her nearness will always bring peace. Lean into her love and the love of her Son will unfold us with no less beauty than the blossom of a rose, and we will become the fragrance of heaven on earth.
Copyright 2015, 2017 Margaret Rose Realy
About the Author
Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB lives an eremitic life and is the author of Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent, A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time, 2nd Edition, and A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac. A freelance writer with a Benedictine spirituality, Margaret has a master’s degree in communications and is a Certified Greenhouse Grower, Advanced Master Gardener, liturgical garden consultant, and workshop/retreat leader.