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Reflections on “Watering the Garden”

About nine years ago I became a Deacon at church. Not long after agreeing to lead a small prayer group, I suddenly found myself in situations where I needed to pray out loud and lead others in prayer. Knowing how to pray properly is something I have struggled with for a good portion of my life. My insecurities on how to pray bubbled to the surface so I began a journey to learn the “right” way to pray. It was only after taking a course on St. Teresa of Avila and her book, Interior Castle, that I really began to grow and find peace in my prayer life as I realized that maybe there is no wrong way to pray.

Two years ago, I was introduced to Teresa of Avila and Interior Castle through a course given by the Center for Action and Contemplation. I felt an instant connection to St. Teresa and began to explore and deepen my prayer life. Then, while taking Shalem’s Heart Longings program, I revisited St. Teresa through Gerald May’s article entitled “Watering the Garden.” The way that May interpreted St. Teresa’s description of prayer as watering a garden really spoke to my heart.

The imagery of watering a garden is reflective of creation itself. God created the plants and the water and it was all “Good.” Adam and Eve dwelt in the Garden of Eden. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. I walk a labyrinth near my home set in a garden. Gardens are a sanctuary in which to pray in the midst of chaos.

These are the images St. Teresa and Gerald May bring to life for me in their writings. The description of the soul as a garden where God abides draws me where I can dwell with God. It is a dream come true.

As in the garden where the system to water the flowers, plants and trees starts simple and over time develops into more complex and efficient means of watering, so has my prayer life developed and grown over time. Prayer draws me to the quiet space of my soul where I meet God. It has become easier to leave the chaos and enter the silence.

St. Teresa discusses in Interior Castle how our paths are not necessarily a straight line. She says there will be times when we take steps backwards or experience drought and that is ok. This has been a comfort to me in my search for how to pray. I am still on the journey and failure is not uncommon. Life, monkey brain, and business take control at times. But knowing God is with me, along for the ride and always deep in my soul calling me home, encourages me to continue the journey and not give in or give up. May says “Our role in tending our soul-garden is to water it, and the water is prayer.” I work on watering my garden all day long. Some days more water is required but every day water is needed. As my prayer life continues to grow like the plants in the garden, I strive to rejoice always, pray continually (1Thessalonians 5:16-17) and heed God’s call.

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Jeanne Klaver
Jeanne Klaver
10 days ago

Heartfelt words from a beautiful soul!

Brian
Brian
9 days ago

Read this first thing this morning,such a nice way to start!

Teressa Jeon
Teressa Jeon
8 days ago

So awesom description to 1 Thes.5:16-17. Contentment deeply felt! Watering the Garden, Lord an me!