The landscape surrounding a cathedral is lovingly gardened and tended by
the groundskeepers. Paths and walkways, columned places of retreat lie
hidden until found at each step of our surveying that awesome house of God.
And we cannot realize until we walk slower through this life that the peace
and beauty within that sacred place is, in part, the wonders of God's
beautiful creations outside. Joyce Kilmer expresses the spirit of the
cathedral gardens in his "Trees":
I think that I shall never see|
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
The cross in every tree ... Let me come to love Thee, oh Thou source of love -- Let me see Thee, nor escape Thy beauty everywhere -- Give me eyes that long to see, give me a heart to long for Thee ... So sanctify my soul: that wherever I walk it is the Holy Land .... and every street, every road and wayside path will seem trodden by Thee ... I see the blood within Thy footprints -- as in the small red rose ..... Oh Merciful, for lest I die a stranger to Thee down here -- give me that heart to seek Thee out --- so let me sense Thy crown of thorns in every brambled bush of thorns, and let me see the cross in every tree, for the very love of loving Thee! Glennie
Garden 2: Morning Glories
What is it Lord but a simple flower, that climbs the fence into my heart? What have You put into its blue its center white and golden hue? Oh yes, I know Your glorious hand alone brings glory through such things -- to greet the morning's fresh renewal, to greet us, raise us from our "tombs"! A trumpet that makes not a sound, or more than that, it promises the heavens shall fill with glorious tunes, if first our hearts will sing with You,
of Glory, at the Glorious Sight -- He gives on earth to Heaven-bent hearts of Morning breaking gold and blue -- of inward treasures brought to view, in Morning Glories.And how can we but love Your Lord, who speaks such flowers every dawn -- and they arise and open wide to feel the sunshine of Your love. Amen
Garden 3: Holly
Lord Jesus, Thou wast born to die and arise for us sinners, at the manger fell the shadow of the cross .....
In Thy baby's cries was surely that forgiving cry Thou hadst prayed for those who so ill-treated thee hanging there, as Thou didst die, between two thieves.
Thy baby's hands, too weak to grasp any but the fingers of Thy parents
The holly is Thy witness to it all, the green and red gaiety of Christmases past and beloved tell in their jagged green of a crown of thorns! in brightsome berries of red, the bleeding droplets from Thy Sacred head.
Garden: Saint Patrick taught the Trinity by the analogy of a shamrock.
There are fields of shamrock and clover sweet ......
Now in those great spanses of farmland we reverence Thee in these symbols
of Thy Mystery, Unity in Threeness ...
Garden 5: The Gospel of the Dogwood Blossom
Oh Crucified One, I behold thee ten thousands of times in but one brief lifetime, and all in the dogwood's blossoming days. At the center is Thy crown of thorns, Eden's accursed signs, our shame now become Thy crowning love. Each petals' edge touched to Thy wounds, from nails driv'n deep into the flesh -- "Yet love's what's held Christ fastened there", those blossom's fragrance whisper, "for thee, for all who dare see Him in life, in death, and in dogwood trees".
Garden 6: Bleeding Hearts:
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Garden 7: A Multitude of Blossoms
though there be a multitude of blossoms,
Oh Lord of the great harvest,
So many blossoms, so slight our love for Thee. Teach me again and again
and yet again though winter has come for me -- teach me, if I be only that
one in the multitude, that I may yet come to an holy fruition. Did this
ransomed soul once blossom forth? Thou alone knowest. Can there be another
spring before all is swept before us? Thou knowest -- oh grant me hope that
I may live for love of Thee again. Amen.
Garden 8: Saint Terese, The Little Flower
And at the garden's gate is God's Little Flower:
The walk through the Cathedral gardens is not complete until we consider St. Terese of Lisieux. Often called the little flower she was an holy and delicate little nun who died very young back in 1897.
One might say, "There surely is nothing remarkable in that." I disagree, she was and is as remarkable a flower as ever grew in our Lord's glorious garden. Though she could not venture beyond the enclosure of the Carmelite convent, her prayers reached to the ends of the earth for she had always wanted to be a missionary. She is, today, honored as patroness of all missionaries. Some believe that her prayers for the missionaries were so powerful that, at times, she was spiritually there on the various mission fields with them!
Beloved of her precious and holy family, now beloved of the precious nuns in the Carmel where she resided, she kept them laughing night and day. Flowers seemed to love her presence an she certainly loved the flowers.
Her walk with Christ was so marvelously beautiful that, as an act of obedience, she was ordered to write her autobiography by the Mother Superior of the Convent. It is to this day one of the jewels in the crown of Christian literature leading ordinary people to do extraordinary things for the love of Jesus.
Upon her death bed she promised that she would send showers of flowers down upon the world from Heaven. She asked God, "Let me spend my Heaven doing good upon the earth!" And dying young as she was, it would seem that her prayer was granted by the Lord she so adored since, for one hundred years now, there are thousands of testimonies from people who were in a difficult way asking Terese to pray for them. The answered prayers from the Lord were always accompanied by roses being discovered or being sent right before the miracle was granted. I wonder, my dearest ones, what a place Paradise must be with such as this precious saint among its blessed citizens.
Garden 9: Fragrances
I must linger here for a moment, please be patient with me. Irving Berlin wrote a pretty little song way back when, "The song is over but the melody lingers on / you and the song are gone / but the melody lingers on." They don't write them like that any more. It reminds me that long after we leave a garden the fragrance is still there in our hearts. Fragrances are hard to describe but here are a few from some of my favorite authors, let's enjoy them before we go ahead:
from T.S. Eliot's "Murder In The Cathedral"
(concerning St. Thomas a Becket)
We are not here to triumph by fighting,
by stratagem, or by resistance.
Not to fight with beasts as men.
We have fought the beast.
And have conquered. We have only to conquer
Now, by suffering. This is the easier victory.
There are thoughts which are prayers.
There are moments when,
whatever the posture of the body,
the soul is on its knees.
To be, or not to be --
that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The stings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And opposing, end them
The great novelist
Thomas Clayton Wolfe wrote
You Can't Go Home Again.
And it is true that we cannot turn time backwards
and have of it what we most treasured,
that which we called home!
But there is Home and it awaits us
just over the next hill of this life,
just one missed heart-beat,
one falling asleep to awaken
Next, Twin Steeples
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