As the season of new life blossoms all around us, we invite you to discover the garden of your soul, the mindfulness that enables us to focus on the energy of the present moment, poetry that invites the beauty of words to stir the spirit within. Take time to enrich the beauty of your summer.
Read about my experience during this Sacred Thread Ministries’ retreat.
A Day in the Soul Garden
The Still Desert
By: Louise Easton
“The Still Desert” is how a fellow participant described her experience during a recent Sacred Thread Ministries’ retreat I attended on the lush grounds of the Loyola Jesuit Center in Morristown. It is also the title of a poem by the beloved philosopher/mystic Meister Eckhart, known as the hero of modern spirituality.
While I did not have the same image as this discerning woman, my experience was equally gratifying. We were first introduced to a gentle, playful and even joyful way of exploring the deepest part of our selves by making a Soul Garden, with miniature play figures and potpourri of bark, stones, artificial flowers, stones, rocks, sand. This was a new experience for me but I found myself eagerly joining a cafeteria -style line to select the items that attracted me and chose them. Our assignment was to make a garden out of them, and so I did! My mind remained still as my fingers worked quickly, without thought, forming, shaping and finally creating a storybook scene.
Little did I know it was my soul directing my fingers, placing my doll-like body on a hill, gazing down a dazzling gravel road with love and gratitude for special graces recently granted to me. This only came to light when I had to explain my conception to my partners. How revealing it was! How insightful the introspection of others as they clearly interpreted my scene. Afterward, the entire group of retreatants shared impediments that prevented our spiritual gardens from growing. Weeds of worry, anxiety, and insecurity were among those we discussed in their various personal forms.; the soul’s voice replacing the pain of recollection, with the joy of optimism and faith.
The late spring sun provided a perfect garden setting for Fr. Peter Krebs’ introduction to mindfulness. Rather than offer physical techniques on how to ‘be present to the moment’ Fr. Peter brought us back to basics: that |God is always present within us, but we too often are ‘not home’. He suggested we simply spend time in the beautiful outdoor garden and look at God’s creations with awe and astonishment rather than with judgment or critique of either how they were formed or how we personally accomplished the mindfulness techniques.
I would not, if asked, be able to describe my feelings in those moments of solitude. However, I do know my body welcomed the warm breeze of a new season, my heart opened to the soothing sounds of the pond’s sprinkling water fall; and I almost swooned as my close companion, a common sparrow, cheerfully announced his whereabouts.
Words to describe the experience came to us in the last session of the day in poetry where we read together, like Lecto Divina, words of past and contemporary spiritual poets. Another by Meister Eckhart, summed up the day for me. “You become love in what I am and think and do, and my heart becomes so full of You that love is my all, and all will be well with me.” It was indeed a day of wellness!