Gardening is contemplative activity. We have beautiful grounds at the Monastery and many Sisters have their own gardens. You can often see a Sister here or there tending her garden. I have a great flower/herb garden at the Monastery and am also working with some friends to plant a new veggie and flower garden to help St. Joseph House, a home serving homeless women and children.
I was working in my garden one morning quite early before heading to downtown Rock Island to work in the new garden. It was a great contemplative prayer experience. There is something about getting down to earth, watching seeds spring up and knowing God is Creator of all. Simply amazing how nature is so rich, colorful and nourishing. In the summer, it is a prayer to tend my gardens.
We pray, we work, we tend gardens and that is a great summer rhythm around the Monastery, especially this week. Almost every Sister is on retreat. From last Saturday until this coming Friday, the rhythm includes two conferences per day and plenty of quiet. The retreat director is a Benedictine monk, Dan Ward, from St. John””s Abbey in Minnesota. His topic is the Rule and his reflections are very practical and quite penetrating about community living. (Most Sisters who are in administration, including me, go on retreat singly later in the year, so as to not disrupt daily business.) Although I am not on retreat, several Sisters have expressed how good Dan””s reflections are each day.
Our basic contemplative rhythm can be adjusted to accommodate gardening and retreat. Each season brings something new to our daily rhythm of prayer, community and work. What is the rhythm you are seeking in your life?