Experience the interconnectedness of gardening, spiritual renewal and prayer
Renewal, Return, Growth
The past year has been difficult for many of us who have had to balance the pandemic, work, family, and even our mental and spiritual health. Perhaps we have neglected to tend to the things in our lives that bring us closer to Christ or enhance our relationships. This Spring offers us a chance to start anew; to refresh, relax, and reboot our gardens and our spirits.
April and May are wonderful months to not only revive and strengthen our home gardens, but our prayer lives and faith too. We experience the days changing as they start to become warmer, brighter, and full of color. This is a sign that it’s time to begin preparing our garden soil and seeds as well as our hearts and minds for Christ.
Lay the Groundwork
Find space to grow in prayer
For the garden: Remember to choose a location that is best for the seed and/or plants you are going to be growing. Location is important!
For the spirit: Preparing and laying the groundwork for your garden will allow you to successfully reap your gifts and give them a nourishing place to grow.
The same goes for your relationship with God – location is important! In order to foster a fruitful relationship with God, it’s important to find spaces, times, and relationships that enable you to encounter Him. See if a prayer group, a quiet chapel, walking in the woods, or kneeling by your bed at night is the best location to grow and build upon your connection with Our Lord.
Clear the Debris
Remove that which hinders growth
For the garden: When preparing your ground or soil, be sure to remove any large rocks, stone, leaves, and sticks. The soil in your garden needs to be in the best condition possible to guarantee that the seeds and plants have a better chance of growing to its fullest and best.
For the spirit: While you are grooming your soil, take some time to think about your faith and prayer life. Are your heart and mind free from unwanted spiritual stones and sticks that may be preventing you from being able to strengthen and provide a healthy foundation of prayer and love to God?
As you physically remove the obstacles from your garden soil, think of the barriers and obstructions that are preventing you from growing and improving in your relationship with Our Lord.
Feed and Fortify
Create a healthy dwelling place for Christ
For the garden: Now that you have cleared the soil from unwanted elements, it is time to ensure that your soil is full of nutrients to feed and fortify the seeds and plants. When I am planting in the ground, I like to use a blend of garden fertilizer (either vegetable or flower depending on the plant or seed) and the soil that is already there. I use the same fertilizer for my potted plants too, with a soil mix of equal part topsoil and potting soil.
Fertilizer is very important to the growth and stability of the plants as they develop. It helps the existing soil bring about new life and boost existing life of the plants in your garden.
For the spirit: While you add and mix in the fertilizer with your garden soil, reflect on your existing faith and prayer life. Is it providing the necessary nutrients to your heart that are vital for a healthy and lasting relationship with our Father in heaven?
No matter where we are in our prayer life, we need to have “fresh fertilizer” added occasionally. This can come in the form of Adoration, Confession, silent prayer, and attending daily Mass. Remember, there is always room to grow spiritually.
Planting and Watering
Be attentive to your environment
For the garden: Finally, after preparing the soil, it is time to plant your seeds and plants. Be sure to plant your seeds according to the directions on the seed packets, which explain how deep to plant them, the size hole to dig, and how far apart the seeds should be. As for physical plants, the same concept should be applied.
With most plants, you will begin by removing them from their containers and loosen the roots. After that you place the plants into the hole you have prepared and cover the roots by filling in the hole.
Make sure to water your garden often for the first 1-2 weeks. Once that time has passed, you will water the garden depending on factors such as weather, plant type, and location.
For the spirit: Just as you will be caring for and maintaining your garden on earth, be sure to care for your heart, faith, prayer-time, and relationship with our Father in heaven. There will be times when you need to pray a little more if you’re in a spiritual drought, just as you would need to water your garden a little more due to lack of rain.
Prayer Among the Garden
Incorporate Prayer into your gardening experience
Now that you have produced and created a beautiful garden, have some fun with it! Decorate your garden in a way that reflects your personal style or consider planting a Mary Garden. Feel free to add decorative rocks, mulch, statuary, and garden ornaments.
In one section of my flower garden, I have a statue of the Blessed Mother. Before attending my different gardens I stop by her statue to pray a Hail Mary and after watering and working in the gardens I stop by to pray a Hail Holy Queen. This helps me to prepare for my prayer time with God while caring for the plants of His creation.
Over the past year, gardening has given me peace during this crazy time, has truly improved and reinforced my relationship with God, and has strengthened my faith. When I am working in my different gardens and caring for my plants, I use that time to talk with the Lord and have learned to love him even more. As your garden grows, like your faith, you will see right before your eyes the beauty and love of God that is truly all around you.
Written by Victoria Valent