Archive for May, 2013

Every morning — for years now — my son has responded to my garden enthusiasms with a little attitude of bemusement, as if to say, “There, there, dear, you’ll be fine.” He knows the drill so well that if I skip the commentary about a particular patch of moss or someone’s hedge, he will squeeze my hand and hesitate expectantly at the spot. But he also assures me he will never remember any of the names. “You’re wasting your breath, Mom.”

Still, I know it won’t be lost on him. Many years ago, in Texas, I heard an old man say to a harried reporter, “Son, you’re living life like a clenched fist.” I did not want this to be visited upon my son. Who gardens with a clenched fist? Gardens slow things down, relax that death grip with which we grasp the time we are given. I want simply to teach my children to see the roses. One day they will know enough to stop and smell them, too.

— Dominique Browning, “Smell the Roses”, in My Mother’s Garden, p. 68


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One of my sweetest memories is of squatting beside my grandmother in the garden. She once took my hands and showed me how to press the air out of the soil surrounding a plant and how to make a depression around a new plant to catch and hold water.

Leaving me with my grandmother was the best gift my parents ever gave me. We got up with the sun and just before dark quit for the day. The work never ended until we washed up supper dishes. Afterwards we sat in the living room listening to the radio and reading.

— Patricia Lanza, “My Grandmother’s Aprons”, in My Mother’s Garden, p. 152

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Because of my mom, I lived my childhood in proximity to flowers. They were always in the background, even when my mom bundled them up and set them in a vase with their arms outstretched and their heads held high and they filled the house with fragrance. I was not a gardener, my mom did not teach me to garden. But they were there, a backdrop of tulips and poppies for my childhood.

My mom did not intrude. She did not give advice. She did not teach me to shave my legs or talk to boys or apply lipstick. She did teach me to sew and to make meringue cookies with chocolate chips and nuts and to stir cornbread into a glass of milk the way she had in the Ozarks as a child. But she did not teach me to love flowers. Like her mother and grandmother, she just loved them herself.

— Debra Landwehr Engle, “Oral History”, in My Mother’s Garden, p. 177

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The greatest difficulty in prayer, as [St.] Teresa [of Avila] names it, is that people do not believe God is with them. I wonder, given our current hectic culture, if it is not so much doubt about God’s being with us as it is an unawareness of this profound presence that prevents prayer from happening. We can believe all sorts of things about the necessity of prayer but lock the door on those convictions through our whirlwind of endless busyness. We may want to grow deeper and stronger in our God-relationship but get caught in a plethora of activities and expectations, quickly losing awareness of the tremendous gift residing in us. “I’m afraid that too often we leave the deeps of life untouched,” writes Percy Ainsworth, “not because we remember they are sacred but because we forget they are there.”

— Joyce Rupp, Prayer, p. 68-69

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“Don’t push the river,” says my friend Richard Rohr. Don’t get ahead of your soul. The goal isn’t to get somewhere. The goal isn’t about forcing something to happen. The goal is to be in harmony with the gifts that are already given. The goal is to fall in love with your life.

— Paula D’Arcy, Sacred Threshold

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It is a valuable practice at night to spend a little while revisiting sanctuaries of your lived day. Each day is a secret story woven around the radiant heart of wonder. We let our days fall away like empty shells and miss all the treasures.

— John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World

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The question which is often put to me, “Do you believe in God?,” usually seems a superficial one. If it only means that there is an extra place in your head where God sits, then God is in no way an event which changes your whole life, an event from which, as Buber says of real revelation, I do not emerge unchanged. We should really ask, “Do you live out God?” That would  be in keeping with the reality of the experience.

— Dorothee Soelle, Dorothee Soelle: Essential Writings

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