Lent: Tending the garden of our souls
It’s officially spring! In our diocese, we may still have a wait until we can finally throw open the windows and prep the garden for planting. But as Catholics, Lent (from the Old English word meaning spring) is our time for an interior spring cleaning of worldly clutter in the garden of our souls as we prepare for Easter.
The practice of tending the garden of our souls is ancient. In the 12th century, the hermit monks of Mount Carmel (Hebrew for garden) sought to purify themselves from all that separated them from God. St. Teresa of Avila reignited this desire through her reform of Carmel to prepare her nuns and friars for union with God. But we don’t have to live in a monastery or on a mountaintop to examine what we let into our minds and hearts that can inhibit the flowering of our relationship with the Lord. St. Teresa herself wrote that Jesus is the Gardener, but we must tend our gardens with him.
For the remainder of Lent, we can do this by identifying and clearing out the weeds and clutter of the world: images, words or things that lead us to create a false identity not of Christ; toxic or inappropriate friendships that lead us to near occasions of sin; addictions to distractions or entertainment that keep us from prayer and letting God’s will be done in and through our lives.
By setting aside a few minutes of quiet with the Lord every day, we can gently examine the state of our minds and hearts, and through the sacraments we can receive the grace to tend our gardens with Jesus. Then we will be able to hear the Risen Christ speaking to us as Mary Magdalene did in the garden on Easter morning.
Cambio is director of youth and young-adult ministry for the Parish of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in Elmira.
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