Carmel has been likened to a garden, a sanctuary of peace, hidden in the depths of an individual. No matter where a person is in time or in place, he or she may take refuge in the garden, to dwell in its serenity and embrace the world with prayer.
Prayer is so very good for the growth of one’s soul and for all the souls in the world. In the tranquil garden of Carmel, wisdom is cultivated into the land of the soul. Through wisdom, a thriving soul keeps body and mind together. Gifts from the soul keep elements in a person’s values, goals and activities neither excessive nor ungrounded, but sustained within a spiritual symmetry.
No one will ever completely understand or appreciate his or her Carmelite garden until eternity. At times it may be frightening inasmuch as it is a place of singular, ever-unfolding, terrible beauty. Yes, even in the summer tranquility, thunderstorms can cause unexpected delight and horror. What will be revealed when spiritual lightning strikes one’s soul? The inner landscapes change with the seasons of a person’s days and years.
The terrain is a ground of mystery, ever in transition. A pilgrim never knows what he or she will find. Beauteous foliage springs from seeds of self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice originates from God’s love within the heart and finds expression in love for others. As the sun rises and sets in the passing of time, so do the mysterious beauties in one’s Carmelite garden.
To know the rose is to know a glimpse of the beauty of God. To know that the faded rose will bloom again is to have a glimpse of eternity. A pilgrim gazes long at cactus deserts, urban parks, pine forests, country meadows, fruited plains, rolling hills or rocky mountains. Each has a place in the garden of the soul. No matter where a person is on the road of life, he or she can wander in a garden. It is a place of retreat and repose.
A Carmelite rests in the quiet and experiences prayer as ultimate mystery. In the peace of one’s soul a pilgrim remembers people with restless, shallow or empty souls and nourishes them with silent prayer. Soul care is the most profound and essential concern for humanity. Carmelites vest themselves and their efforts into this phenomenon which will extend into eternity. It may rain or shine fiercely in one’s Carmelite garden, but both are needed for it to survive and thrive.
~ A Meditation by Carolyn Humphreys, O.C.D.S.