Garden of Delights

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Summer is here! A time for tilling the soil and planting the good seed in our gardens.

St. Teresa of Jesus was fond of using the labors done in garden to describe the work of God in our souls. In her Autobiography we read:

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“Let us now return to our garden and see how these trees are beginning to bud so as to blossom and afterward give fruit— and also the flowers and carnations so as to give forth their fragrance. This comparison has its charm for me because often in my beginnings (and, please the Lord, I may have now begun to serve His Majesty; I mean the beginnings of what I shall say from here on about my life) it was a great delight for me to consider my soul as a garden and reflect that the Lord was taking His walk in it.

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I begged Him to increase the fragrance of the little flowers of virtue that were beginning to bloom, so it seemed, and that they might give Him glory and He might sustain them since I desired nothing for myself —and that He might cut the ones He wanted, for I already knew that better ones would flower.

I say “cut” because there are times when the soul has no thought of this garden. Everything seems to be dry, and it seems there is not going to be any water to sustain it —nor does it appear that there has ever been in the soul anything of virtue. It undergoes much tribulation because the Lord desires that it seem to the poor gardener that everything acquired in watering and keeping the garden up is being lost.

This dryness amounts to an authentic weeding and pulling up of the remaining bad growth by its roots, no matter how small it may be. By knowing that there is no diligence that suffices if God takes away the water of grace and by placing little value on the nothing that we are, and even less than nothing, the soul gains much humility. The flowers begin to grow again!

The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Jesus, 15,9

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