FROM MY HEART TO YOURS
Everything is blooming most recklessly;
if it were voices instead of colours,
there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke
Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner. The astronomical or ‘official date of spring in the Southern Hemisphere is September 19 / 20. However, that being said, the evidence of spring is all around us, the days are warmer, blossom is on the trees and daffodils are out in abundance. Not being a devoted garden, I thought I had better, Google the tasks for the spring time gardener. I discovered that this time of the year is the busiest time of the year. Plants are waking up, the ground requires preparing for new seasons planting and of course pruning where applicable.
Of course you gardeners would have known this, but as I reflected upon the myriad of tasks for the spring gardener, I thought about the garden of the soul.
A poem I discovered about year ago by Antonio Machado expresses beautifully this tendering and care of our soul:
The wind, one brilliant day
The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odour of jasmine.
“In return for the odour of jasmine,
I’d like all the odour of your roses.”
“I have no roses; all the flowers
In my garden are dead.
“Well then, I’ll take the withered petals
and the yellow leaves and waters of the fountain.”
The wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
“What have you done with the garden that was entrusted
Each time I read this poem, I find myself engaging in much needed care and attention of the inner garden of my soul. With all the various demands that are placed upon our time along with what we ourselves place upon ourselves, it is so easy to neglect our own lives, and to seek our identity in another and what we do, instead of who we are as a person.
In the early 1990’s in my role as Director of a Social Service Agency I would visit community houses which were used as half way houses for people with a psychiatric illness. When I introduced myself to the residents, a familiar reply was I am (name) and I am a schizophrenic or a manic depressive. Their identification was with the illness not with themselves as a person. I am in no way criticising them, rather, their way of introducing themselves struck a chord within me , which still reverberates inviting me to listen to what is not being said as well as what is. I told the following story at the August meeting of our Church Council:
A woman in a coma was dying. She suddenly had a feeling that she was taken up into heaven and stood before the judgement seat.
” Who are you?” a Voice said to her.
” I’m the wife of the mayor.” she replied.
” I did not ask you whose wife you are but who you are.”
” I’m the mother of four children.’
” I did not ask whose mother you are, but who you are.”
” I’m a schoolteacher.”
” I did not ask you what your profession is but who you are.”
And so it went. No matter what she replied, she did not seem to give a satisfactory answer to the question, ” Who are you?”
I’m a Christian.”
“I did not ask what your religion is but who you are.”
I’m the one who went to Church every day and always helped the poor and needy.”
” I did not ask you what you did but who you are.”
She eventually failed the examination for she was sent back to earth. When she recovered from her illness she was determined to find out who she was. And that made all the difference.
We each have a personal responsibility to care and nurture our own garden of the soul. Within the Christian tradition this is a neglected aspect of our spirituality.
We know that grace is the central tenant of our faith, but, often we substitute grace for frantic activity and lose ourselves in the process. Each encounter we have with another human being, everything that happens within us and around us calls our soul to come alive. Your presence in this world is not by accident,
May this springtime, find you engaging in some gardening of the soul. For some this may be major landscaping while for others the odd weed here and there may need to be pulled, while for others some serious pruning needs to be continued. Each will know what needs to be undertaken. May God give us the grace, strength and courage to be gardeners of the soul this springtime. I offer you this blessing for your journey: