Monday, October 16, 2006

Making Do on Mondays: A Holy Kind of Place

Before I get into this, I want to add the disclaimer that my own home does NOT have a family altar or prayer place. I could cite some reasons like lack of space, etc., but I don't have any really good excuses why not. However, something we aspire to is what I'm discussing today; I hope many of you can make it your goal as well.

Each home would do well to have a special place set aside for prayer. This can take on many levels of complexity from just having an end table with a candle and Bible on it, all the way to including a kneeler and statues or custom icons in one whole room of the home. Regardless of the form it takes, imagine the good that could come in cultivating our family's spiritual life if we designated certain areas as sort of refuges from the prosaic world. No toys or food or goofing around would be allowed in this mini-sanctuary. It serves one purpose only- to inspire us into a deeper, prayerful communication with our Lord. It is an area that could be used to teach children the value of holy places... a place where they can practice reverence before entering the real House of God.

On a similar note, it is a goal of mine to have an outdoor sanctuary as well... a "Mary garden" like some say. I don't need a full blown pond that has automatic fountains coordinating a show to the tune of Ave Maria or anything... just a simple area in one corner of our yard that is set aside. I imagine a large statue of Mary set in a little cove bordered by river rocks and gardens of unruly wildflowers surrounding a little wooden bench my husband will have made. Yes, I'm an idyllic thinker... but why not make it happen?! Our homes are our castles and our yards are our tiny slice of paradise... for better or worse the circumstances we live in. We can beautify and sanctify even a tiny back patio on our apartment building if that's all we have. Sure, most of us imagine having sprawling acreage for our children to explore God's beautiful earth, but even in a little suburban backyard, a simple statue and artfully arranged flower gardens can bring a piece of the Divine into our living areas...

The website "Mary's Gardens" is a great place to go for info on how to honor the Blessed Mother in our gardens including prayers. "flower theology," and practical placement tips. John Stokes Jr. had this to say regarding a Mary Garden... and this was in 1955. How even more true are his statements in today's world!!!

Surrounded by the manufactured products, paved streets, stone and steel buildings of our city culture, we have lost our sense for the potency of plant life. For nature has provided a providential means for instructing children in virtue and in knowledge and love of God and of Our Lady. One means of restoring this sense is to undertake the cultivation of a Mary Garden . . . a garden - large or small -comprised of plants and blooms which were named for Our Lady in the old popular religious traditions of pre-Reformation Catholic England. Such a garden affords souls a nourishment which has been distilled from centuries of popular devotion, and contains a richness and vigor not to be found in books and classrooms.

There have been many times I wished I had a place to retreat to with a rosary in hand and a mind full of troubled thoughts... I don't see myself being able to pay to go on any weekend prayer retreats anytime soon so why not try to bring a little bit of serenity into our own lives?

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 12:17 AM :: 1 Comments