June 20, 2008

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

You are made new in God’s garden of life

Rick Hermann(Editor’s note: This week, we begin a new monthly column, “The Joyful Catholic,” by Rick Hermann of St. Louis. A Catholic author, speaker and life coach, his popular columns appear nationwide. His e-mail address is RH222@sbcglobal.net.)

In my garden, a clay tablet reads, “A kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on Earth.”

Each spring, I feel a sense of wonder as I plant my secluded garden.

I enjoy turning the moist ground with my shovel, preparing it to receive the seeds of new life.

In my pockets, I carry my favorite seeds, including tomatoes, corn, peas, watermelons, cantaloupes and cucumbers.

I delight in each of their special shapes and qualities.

Some seeds prefer dry soil, others do better in wet soil. Some require full sun, others favor shade.

From experience, I know each of their unique requirements so I carefully plant each seed in exactly the right spot in the garden.

One by one, I take each seed and push it deep into the sweet, fragrant earth with my finger. Next, I cover every one with fine, organic topsoil.

Finally, with my water hose, I soak the furrows and beds.

Now I wait in joyful anticipation. A miracle is in the making.

Sure enough, a few days later, little green sprouts magically pop up and reach toward the sun. Each new plant is a bountiful sign of the mystery of creation and the renewal of life. Soon my family will rejoice in an abundant harvest.

I am participating in the mystery of creation, cooperating with God and renewing the face of the Earth. This was the first job that God gave to Adam—to take care of the Garden of Eden.

I know God is the Master Gardener, and we are his seeds. He knows each one of us better than we know ourselves.

God knows exactly where to plant us, and he carefully chooses the perfect place.

As seeds, we only know that we find ourselves suddenly pushed down into darkness.

Naturally, we feel fearful and alone. In our distress, we wonder why God abandons us this way. Doesn’t he care that we are buried alive, we are suffocating, that we cannot move or see? We are anxious about our future, and we fear dying.

It is during this uneasy time that we should rest in the comfort which our Lord gives to each of us.

Jesus says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24).

Christ invites us to die to our selfishness so that he may liberate his divine life hidden within us.

He calls us to let go of anger, greed and pride. As we die to our sinful vice, we are reborn in virtuous life.

In what way are you called to die to yourself today? Jesus promises to walk with you, watch over you and guide you.

We may rejoice that our hard shells are cracking, sprouting new life and gracefully rising toward the Son.

Our new life will be unimaginably more fruitful than the life we now live, producing the fruits and seeds of an ever-increasing harvest, surpassing our comprehension.

This is our life in Christ, bursting forth in endless abundance, lovingly cultivated by the mighty hand of God. †

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