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The Garden of the Soul

Looking out upon my yard fills me with many emotions… wonder, gratitude and awe for God’s creations.  But there is an area of my yard that I have been purposefully avoiding for several summers… the dreaded weed patch!  This area seems to have a mind of its own.  It gets weeded and then seems to regrow overnight.  This has caused some angst in me at the thought of tackling the project, especially after such a rainy few months, the weeds have taken over! 

Recently, on a sunny day, after much prayer and procrastination, I decided to take on the weed challenge.  I donned my rubber boots, an old pair of jeans and my thick gloves and headed out to the jungle of my garden.  As I begin to make headway through the thick patch of weeds, I pray.  I pray for those I love, asking God to protect and keep them; I pray for those I do not love as I ought, asking God to protect them as well and also to soften my heart in those areas of hardness. I pray for our country and the state that the world is in and as I begin to see more and more clarity in the garden, I also begin to see how God has placed me in this garden for a very specific purpose.  I am not just here to weed out the unwanted, but also to be opened to the beautiful awareness that the garden has in my soul.

Just as I have allowed these weeds to take over this area of my garden, I realize that I have also allowed the continuation of certain sins to take over some areas of my soul.  When left unattended, the weeds become more fully rooted in their place and eventually take over the good plants that are close by.  This is what I see happens when I allow the evil of sin to take hold in my life.  I have allowed the weeds of sin to root themselves in my life and when left unattended, I know they will begin to take over the good and beautiful areas of my life.  I see when uncovering the top layer of the weeds, there is a deep root system which goes well below the surface and establishes itself in preparation for when the gardener comes to pull them out.  This beautiful analogy brings me to the Scripture passage found in the book of John which calls Jesus the “gardener” (Jn 20:15) and which proclaims that “I am the true vine and My Father is the gardener” (Jn 15:1).  

We began life in the Garden where all things were created, perfect and in perfect harmony with one another.  After the fall, our world became that of the “father of lies,” and our fallen nature became plagued by concupiscence and the consequences of our sins.  But because we are witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we have the blessing of knowing the end of the story.  We know that death does not have the final say and that we live in the hope that is Christ! 

So as I continue to dig deeply into the dirt of my garden and the awareness of my sins, I see the light that is found in Christ.  I see that garden cleared away of the takeover of the weeds, just as I see my own soul’s garden cleared away of the takeover of sin.  And while I know full well that those weeds will come back, just as I know full well that the temptation to sin will also return, I have full confidence in the One Who created me, that I can overcome whatever the world throws at me as long as I stay close to Christ and remain vigilant in my call of holiness.  This, I know, can only be done by staying close to Christ in the Eucharist, by participating in the Mass, through prayer and by offering sacrifices in reparation for my sins and the sins of the world.  One way I can offer such sacrifices is by staying in my garden and tending to the “weeds” that the world throws my way.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Phil 4:13) because I know that it is Christ Who “makes all things new” (Rev 21:5) and if I do not remain attached to the vine, I can produce no fruit. 

The garden is a beautiful place to remain and I intend to keep those weeds under control!

Copyright 2022, Nicky Verna

Nicky Verna is a Catholic wife of 28 years to her Deacon husband, Tom, and mother to their 4 young adult children. She entered into the fullness of the Catholic faith in 1992 at the age of 25 and has been studying, learning and growing in her Catholic faith ever since. She graduated Cum Laude with a Masters degree in Theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary's School of Theological Studies. She is a daily communicant and a member of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, Drexel Hill where she is Director of the New Evangelization. She is a catechist in the PREP program, facilitates Adult Faith Formation and Scripture Studies, occasionally lectors and is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. She has served the Church as a substitute teacher for area Catholic schools, is a Catholic speaker whenever invited, a prayer intercessor and leader for Unbound, Queen of the Rosary Ministry,  a board member for AbbeyFest Ministries and is part of the planning committee for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Catholic Women’s Conference. During the lockdown, she served as a weekly host for the Archdiocese’s Rosary Campaign. Nicky is also a leader, regional ambassador and Discovery Retreat facilitator for SoulCore, a Marian prayer apostolate which combines movement, core strengthening and functional exercises with the prayers of the Rosary. She is genuinely in love with Christ.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. As I read early. this morning Nicky’s adventure with her overgrown garden I am in awe how just last night I spoke with my adult daughter about her experience of tackling her out of control weeds. She & 2 of her strong male friends rented a rototiller to remove a 20 year mess around the side & back of her garage that was hidden by a fence. Purchasing a new fence she was told the “tall grasses” had to go. What was underneath the willowy grass were stalks like bamboo that ran very deep. Also a very deep tree root that seemed to have spread out many ways. They worked all day in amazement of the depth of this “growth”. My daughter was told she needed to put down a strong weed killer & mulch to retard new growth that was sure to come. Even though this area was ignored it was not dormant or innocent. Realizing the tentacles of sin and it’s destruction is a call to not wait but to weed our garden soul and to know it is a process we can only do with Our Divine Gardener. Thank You Sweet Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.

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