Posted October 29, 2014:
The Garden Enclosed

by Peter Gravelle.

For a good number of years now, I have been hearing the term, "the garden enclosed," and I have learned that it means "the place in your heart where you meet God." I never liked the term.

Yes, it had nice "romantic" associations, but in reality, my heart was just an overgrown weed-bed. Or so I thought. It wasn’t a place where I wanted to spend time, let alone a place where I could imagine God wanting to be.

So I would just meet the Lord elsewhere—places like the well-tended gardens of the Mass and the tabernacle and the monstrance. Always I was going out, never inviting the Lord in.

It was only this past May, while I was attending our local directors’ meetings that this started to change.

One day during the second week of the three-week-long meetings, we were talking about the inner and outer forum and how we at Madonna House approach them.

We had a good discussion on it, one that taught me more about how to be a local director than anything else I had heard in the three years I have been a director and attending those meetings.

One of the things said was that the inner forum was the garden enclosed, the place where we meet God.

Nothing new there, but somehow this time the place sounded inviting, like a place where I could spend some time. In fact, this time, the idea of a place within my heart where I could meet and talk with my Maker intrigued me.

Over the last while, my prayer before the Blessed Sacrament had started to become not enough. Why did I have to sit before the Blessed Sacrament in order to pray? And why was prayer in my room so awkward? Maybe that’s why this place in my heart now sounded attractive.

Then I remembered something Fr. David May had said the week before at the very beginning of the meetings. He was reading from the book, The Heart of the World by Hans Urs von Balthasar, the chapter on the crucifixion.

In that book, the author talked about the crucifixion as a wound blossoming, not in pain but in love and out of love, saving us. The Resurrection, he said, was the blossom of the crucifixion.

Fr. David then related that to us here at Madonna House, saying how the Lord is helping us and leading us to the point where we can let our wounds blossom, not in pain, but in love, out of love.

I took this idea of the wound blossoming and added it to the idea of the garden enclosed. In so doing, I was able to see that, though I thought I had been neglecting this sacred spot in my heart where I could meet my spouse, I had not.

Every time I tried to face and deal with my issues—the perceived rejection by my father, my huge brother wound, and the effects of sexual abuse—I had been tending my garden enclosed.

The overgrown plants I had thought were weeds were in fact flowering bushes that were being pruned. And whenever I went to confession, especially about my sinful reactions to those wounds, real weeds were being pulled and a pathway was being laid.

Now as I ventured back into this place in my heart, it no longer looked neglected. The overgrown branches no longer blocked the sun, and briars and thorns no longer reached out to scratch and ensnare me.

My garden was now a place of wonder and beauty. In fact, some of those plants that I had seen as weeds, that had overrun the place, blocking out the light and clogging the pathways, were now centerpieces. They had a beauty all their own, sort of awe-inspiring, the beauty of a crucifix in full bloom.

They were now tall flowering shrubs with benches around them so that I might sit and look and no longer be ensnared and where others, too, could come and sit with me and experience the dappled shade of God’s compassion.

And there in the middle of the garden were well-cleared paths leading to a space where, away from the heat of the day, I could meet my Savior.


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