Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lessons from the Garden

May 17th:

July 7th:

Gardening has been teaching me valuable lessons.

The first thing I've learned is PATIENCE. The first photo was taken around the time I planted them, the second photo taken just this morning. While there has been quite a spectacular change in size, there is just the tiniest evidence that one day we will be enjoying the fruits of the harvest. This relates to my spiritual life in many ways. It really is no wonder that many of the parables of Jesus referred to gardening.

Patience. It is a virtue, and nothing teaches patience more than waiting for 60-72 days for vegetables and fruit to grow and ripen. Each day when I go out to water, I check to see the progress of growth and each day I notice a small difference. Looking at the photos I can see a huge difference, it is a perspective that I think about with my spiritual life. Day by day I am growing in small ways and over time, I can look back and see how far I have come. Some days it seems that I have stopped growing or even gone backwards only to find that I have made progress, even if it is slow.

Another thing I've learned is how much we take for granted. In our society, we are in such a hurry to go places, if we get hungry we can always pull in to the nearest fast food place and order a hamburger. We can always stop at WalMart and get x,y,z that we need. But this process has caused me to wonder how society was when they didn't have McDonald's or WalMart. There was a time when people grew their own food and lived on only what they could produce. I would be in serious trouble if I had to rely on my little garden patch for sustenance. Growing my own vegetables gives me such an appreciation for the food that we are blessed to have on our table each day. It gives me an awareness of slowing down and enjoying life, at the pace of nature rather than the pace of society.

Because when you care for a plant every day and it takes two months for it to give you food, you really appreciate that. You see the process that goes into what it takes for a tomato to go from a small plant to yielding fruit, which is quite different than going to the store and buying it from the shelf. Many times those tomatoes have sat on my counter and ended up rotting. It is because I didn't appreciate it as much as I do now. You can bet that these are not going to waste!

There is so much that can be learned from gardening. Patience. Thankfulness. An awareness of the amazing way that our world is created, seeing nature up close and being a part of it. It is a rewarding and very insightful venture.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Don't Touch that Novena!

I asked my son, soon to be in sixth grade at our Catholic parish school, if he knew what a Novena was. Sometimes I just randomly ask my kids questions to see if they know the answer and sometimes I do it strictly for amusement because if they don't know the answer, they are sure to make something up. This child is my most creative one and he has a very unique way of looking at the world. His answer? "A Novena is something that burns easily." Little did I know that he was on the right track. I just needed to fill in the blanks.

The word Novena is a derivative of the number nine, a novena is a prayer lasting for nine days. This is a model of the first Christians, who after the Ascension of Our Lord, gathered in prayer in the upper room for nine days and on the tenth day, the Holy Spirit descended. A great wind filled the room and tongues of fire rested on their heads. This happened on the ancient Jewish festival called the "feast of weeks" or Pentecost. This event also marks the very first Novena!

Ok, so now I'm seeing a connection between fire and prayer. My son is brilliant!

Novenas can be divided into categories. There are novenas to Our Lord, our Lady, the saints and angels. It is also customary for the titular saint of the parish to be honored with nine nights of prayer.

Novenas can also be perpetual. Instead of nine consecutive nights, they can be prayed every week. The Miraculous Medal Novena is often prayed in Catholic parishes every Monday.

It is customary for Filipino churches to have a Perpetual Novena for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, whose feast day is June 27th, which also happens to be my wedding anniversary!

Novenas are a wonderful way to enrich your prayer life. I don't know if they can burn easily but I do know that anything is possible!