July 15, 2020 4 min read

The thought of having fresh tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, or even beautiful flowers steps away from my home brings me such joy, but I am not able to enjoy the fruit of my work (pun intended) without first putting in the labor.

Have you ever planted a garden?

It requires an ample amount of time and attention, and I often spend hours tending to it. If you’re not familiar with how to plant a garden, let me share in simple steps how it works.

First,

you have to choose the right location, one that provides plenty of sun and has enough space for your fruits and veggies to grow.

Second,

you need to choose what you want to grow! Certain fruits and veggies must be grown in the correct season or they won’t survive. You also want to make sure you’re planting something you and your family can enjoy.

Next,

you’ll prepare the soil and plant the seeds. It’s important to have the right soil for your seeds and to place them far enough apart so they have space to grow.

Add

water, of course.

Then,

keep the weeds out by yanking them from their roots and fertilize as needed.

Finally,

reap what you’ve sown. Gather your fruits and veggies and enjoy them with your family and friends! While it may sound easy when laid out in these 6 simple steps, tending to a garden is hard work and much of it is out of our control. The plants need enough rain to grow, but not so much that they drown. The sun brings plants to life, but too much will scorch them. Sometimes it feels like my garden will never grow or that all the time I spend planting and tending to my garden is wasted. But the more time I spend in my garden, the more I’ve seen it be a reflection of my spiritual life and the journey that is set before each of us. As written in the Bible, “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11). Amidst storms and trials of our own lives, God will always be with us. He has the ultimate power and control, but he loves us enough to invite us into the garden, to tend to our hearts and our relationship with him.

Have you ever considered your heart to be a garden?

Just as I shared the steps to planting a garden to grow fruits and veggies, I want to open you to the idea that our hearts are very much a garden as well, and they need to be tended to in order to sprout virtue, joy, and freedom.

First,

we have to choose that we want our hearts to be the planting ground. No one else can make the choice for us; we have to be ready and willing to plant seeds in our own lives.

Second,

we decide what it is we want to grow within ourselves. Do we want to cultivate patience, peace, charity?

Next,

we need to prepare our hearts to plant seeds of virtue. We do so by receiving the Sacraments, participating in our communities, and spending time every day in prayer.

Tears will come

with difficult moments, but they are necessary to water our hearts and grow our trust in God.

Then,

in order to make space for new growth, we must recognize our weaknesses and work hard to uproot any sin and vice in our hearts.

Finally,

we reap the fruits of our labor. We experience a new relationship with Christ and are called to share our gifts with the world. Just as new gardens are planted every year, our work is never done in our hearts. Our lives will go through seasons, and some years the harvest will be more plentiful than others. But we can find consolation in knowing that there is always room for growth, and the giver of all good gifts is on our side. Our friend, Sister Marie André, from the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles speak beautifully of the changing seasons:

“As I walk through the grounds of Sacred Heart Retreat House, I find consolation in seeing the roses blooming, smelling the beautiful scent of lemon blossoms, and hearing the running water of the fountains all around. Yet, I also feel the heaviness of all the pain and suffering going on around and within us. Amidst these varying emotions, I recall words once spoken to me, ‘God’s existence is not contingent on my feelings.’ Thank God for this truth, for if God’s presence or absence depended on my changing moods, He would be appearing and disappearing several times a day! But God simply is. He always is despite my feelings or lack thereof. He is in the joy and in the pain, and this gives me security, stability, and great peace.”

God can use every season and every circumstance to mend our hearts. I pray we can find perseverance in our work and one day experience the ultimate fruits of our labor in Heaven.

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