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Gardeners and farmers have a special connection to the Word of God, which is frequently spoken with agrarian metaphors. We understand that light is needed for growth, seeds sprout in darkness, winters are necessary, and a good root system endures seasons of drought.
Gardening is a way to enhance our faith life and practice heavenly virtues. It helps us think clearly when we are angry—nothing dissipates anger quite as well as stabbing and flipping a compost heap with a spading-fork—which makes way for temperance. We persevere through all kinds of inclement weather, we hope that our efforts will be successful; and if we grow vegetables, charity is a seasonal given. We practice prudence with our resources, both physically and monetarily, to develop the garden with the gifts we are given.
It is easy to see how these simple practices in a garden translate to how we treat our “neighbor.” The choice of plants in a garden is another way we can honor our faith tradition.
Years ago at a retreat center, I saw the need for outdoor prayer spaces, and began a garden society of volunteers. Those volunteers and others who utilized the center asked how I chose plants for specific garden themes. I’m not a landscape architect or horticulturalist—those professions take years of education—but a Catholic gardener fascinated by plant symbolism in our Christian heritage.
I selected plants because of the way each reflects our faith. Here are a few ideas on what to include in your own prayer garden. For more Catholic gardening ideas, and how to begin building your own prayer garden, follow the embedded links to a couple of books that may help you on your way.