May 18, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

May: A good month for mental gardening

Shirley Vogler Meister“Spring has sprung and so have I. …”

Although I have forgotten the rest of the ditty, I’ve also only “semi-sprung” into my seasonal cleaning. In fact, some of those indoor and outdoor chores are still waiting to be finished since last year.

Obviously, I am not as rigid in keeping order as I once was. Pondering this, a parallel thought popped into my head. During Lent, I did a lot of praying that led to cleaning the cobwebs from my mind and, hopefully, from my soul.

During that time, I was also slowly whittling away at a stack of mail set aside for better reading than the quick look when I first glanced at the items as they arrived in my mail box.

In the stack was Conquer, a newsletter from the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of Illinois. (I have MG, and Illinois is my home state.) An article by the Rev. Sandy Jones, an ordained interfaith minister specializing in motivation, caught my eye. It was titled “How does your mental garden grow?” (More about her can be found at or

Periodically, I recall my personal Lenten efforts, getting my mind and soul in order. But I had never thought of that in terms of mental gardening so Rev. Jones’ words were welcomed: “Be still and know that peace is possible. It takes only a second to change your mind. … Imagine your mind as a mental garden … a beautiful place to spend time with peace-filled thoughts and wonderful pathways to explore.”

What’s more, Rev. Jones wrote, “As the gardener you get to choose which thoughts … will nurture the inner beauty of your mind. You have the power to … weed out the thoughts that can wreak havoc and bring forth chaos to both your inner and outer experience. If you invest in negative thoughts, they continue to grow and, before you know it, your beautiful garden is overgrown with weeds that strangle the lovely flowers. …

“Pay attention to which thoughts come in as you awaken each day. Listen … tune in … and take care of it as a wise gardener would. Fertilize it with nurturing thoughts of love, joy and peace. Breathe in deeply and allow the oxygen to flow through. Fill your thoughts with hope and happiness. Keep your mind open to endless possibilities. … Life on the inside creates life on the outside. … Your thoughts are a choice.”

Recently, I visited a friend in her 90s, a peaceful woman. Coincidentally, Dorothy talked about how deep breathing can lessen pain and promote inner peace. She has a beautiful prayer life, and one of her special joys is praying before the Blessed Sacrament. When I tell her goodbye, I hug her and can feel her contentment. Peaceful friends and family of all ages help my inner peace.

Be still … and know God.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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