There is a certain meditative quality to gardening. When you are pulling weeds, walking back and forth pushing a mower, or deadheading spent flowers, the task at hand requires just enough of our attention to keep our mind from going into over-drive yet open enough to listen to our heart and our mind, offer prayers or just listen.
I thought of this this afternoon while deadheading my butterfly bushes. I want to keep the shrubs clean for the photographers who frequent the garden so they can capture images of the butterflies and humming birds without worrying about big, dead blooms ruining the shot. And truth be told, I like things a particular way and spent flowers do not fit into my garden vision.
As I stood there, deadheading the shrubs, I thought about prayer and how we, or at least I, spend a lot of time talking, praying and not a lot of time listening. We pray to talk to God. We talk to our friends and our family as well but when we talk with them we know, unless we are fabulously socially awkward, to let the other person respond. Do we remember to pause and let God respond?
I have been reading about the Blessed Mother. She was visited by an angel who told her the greatest news. If she was constantly talking to God, or running around or intensely absorbed with her routine and chores, would she have heard the angel? A rather unfair example I admit since she was unique among all women. But it is still a good example for us. If we are to hear the messages God has for us, are we being quiet, calm and still long enough to hear Him?
Gardening can be a spiritual practice, if you are open to it. You work with your hands, touching the earth, the plants and the bugs. Gardening takes our attention away from ourselves and points it towards others. Gardening helps us to stop thinking about what we want and need, and think about how what we are doing can be of benefit to others, caring for plants, feeding and sheltering birds creating beauty for our neighbors or visitors to a park.
When we stop thinking I we can hear responses to our prayers.