Thursday, October 23, 2008

can you hear the gardener?

Part of our class on Spiritual Theology includes periodic mini-retreats. Lauren Miller will have us examine a particular spiritual discipline or practice and then have us participate in it together. This week's class we were discussing how metaphors are a way in which meaning is communicated oftentimes in a better way than if the thing was blatantly said. We were given twenty minutes to each write metaphors of our own and then share them with the class. We were told to write with the following question in mind, "What would you want to say to your classmates about themselves and the time that you've shared together?"

A metaphor written as part of a class discussion and reflection in Spiritual Theology with Lauren Miller, Autumn 2008:

My dear ones,

I can hear the muffled footsteps of the Gardener, treading the worn path to our small grove. Listen. Can you hear him? Some of us can. This is not one of his regular visits to our shelter. He has come to rework the garden again. Before he comes…let me remind you... Let us remember when we each came and how we’ve grown together.

I was but a young sapling, you see.

Brought from strange lands in the east, planted carefully in a shaded spot by the stream. Many of you were there. And some of you had yet to come and be planted. We were each being brought…some in wheelbarrows, some as seeds…but each planted with care and purpose in the space which would best suit us to grow as the Gardner desired.

The stream was cool and deep, and many thoughts and ideas it brought to our minds, calling us to live deeper and grow stronger…to learn from the past. The elms and oaks around us taught us how to drink. How to taste. How to dig our roots deeper into the soil to find the nutrients. It was a hard task to learn…but we managed soon enough and the father and mother trees were very patient. They taught us to open our leaves and feed on the warmth of the Son. By light and water we were made…we feasted together on the goodness of the Gardner’s provision.

In time we grew stronger…some of us have been in the garden for a couple years now. Growing and drinking and eating. The gardner has been ever-loving in his care. He comes to tend us…to ensure our health…to gather the fruit of our labour. Sometimes we hear him coming to prune, and the oak tree reminds us that this is part of growing up. As hard as we try to hide them, the Gardner always finds the dead branches. He removes them in love and takes them away from us.

It has been good, hasn’t it? The wisdom of the older trees, the companionship of our peers, the joy and seeing younger saplings be planted beside us? It is so good. And yet…it does not last forever. It was never meant to. You see, the Gardner knows how to grow us best…and though some of us have grown together for many years now…the time will come when he will come and take us away.

He is, after all, the Gardner.

Some of us will be taken away together. For myself, I seem to have gotten all tangled up with a young willow wand and it seems the two of us will have to be transplanted together. Some of you have branches spread across to other trees in other gardens…I think he will transplant you to the same place as well…when the time comes.

Ah… he has arrived. It is springtime. Well my friends, it is time to go. Thank you for the memories…for helping me learn to drink and eat…for growing along with me for these past four years. I love you all. Farewell…my friends… until we meet again in the greater garden where all trees reside. The Great Garden, which extends beyond all rivers and all meadows, the end of all things.

The Scarlet Monk