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.
Winter has finally arrived, all is white in my garden. The beauty and stillness of this season is so good for times of prayerful anticipation of Your holy birth, I love my garden at this holy time. I wait for Your blessed arrival one more time into my heart.
Oh precious Baby, lover of my soul and a constant companion in my life.
Beloved friend and savior, the whole earth and universe is full of Your glory. Everything is impregnated with Your precious aroma. There is a deep quietude around my garden and around my heart. I sense Your holy presence soon to come.
There are no birds or colorful flowers in my garden at this time. The blanket of the white snow covers it all. All nature is in reverence. It is also waiting like me for Your coming.
Oh blessed Baby, let me prepare an inn in my heart for you. A place of welcome, of warmth, of love. A place where You can grow and unite entirely to me. Let me be still my Beloved. Let me joyfully sing praises to You here and for eternity.
The wings that stretched the heavens like clouds I climbed upon. And long and ardently they bore me in their easeful flight. They were strong. Fireless they were…I was a puny burden, no more than dust. The long, smooth surge I rested on became my final trust.
The heavens’ span and all the wide, thronged space of universes is to these wings an habitable room, a stretching place for leisurely tours and comfortable journeyings. What, now that I have cast myself upon their strength, have I to fear? And yet my heart is humbled into awe to be so near.
‘Jesus comforting a girl in loving embrace’, Art by Unknown Author
Easing myself into the peace I slip over the brink of sleep, into your arms. I lie there my head against your breast one hand at your heart’s steady beat the other crooked behind me and all is quietude and still repose. Your arms enfold me. They make a rampart holding all my fears at bay.
Your breathing is the universe you recreate each second through your love. You are that mighty Word resounding to make creation dance and sing in procreation.
Wedded for the first time in my life, blessed, consecrated, vowed and ringed, I now belong with you, love’s circlet mutual and pledged with sacramental grace. Cherished and safe, cradled and defended by the stronghold of your promise I hold out in my trusting hand to you all my love throughout eternity.
Lovers always say “for ever”… and then betray each other. But we have made our deathless troth that enemies cannot destroy nor many waters quench nor catastrophic earthquake turn to rubble.
Our “for ever” opens up eternity in us where I lie cradled in your quiet arms your steadfast heartbeat here beneath my hand so that I believe, and trust, and render up my all into your care whose dower is to me the universe.
~ By Barbara Dent, O.C.D.S. ‘The Marriage of All and Nothing’
Art by Stephen B. Whatley, ‘The Sacred Heart of Jesus’
In Your heart I live, O my Lord In Your heart I trust In Your heart I hide In Your heart I seek O my Beloved, In Your heart I dream In Your heart I wish In Your heart I place all my longings.
My Jesus, King of my heart In Your heart I hope and love and see O my Beloved, Lover of my soul In You I rest alone You are my peace You alone suffices You are my all In You and in Your silence I find my way.
Come and visit me in my garden, the flowers are wild and unkempt, but they like to grow freely in your space, breathing from your air and soaked in your warm rays.
Come and stay my Beloved, the birds greet you with reverence, and I am still, sinking everything in.
My garden is your abode. It’s our meeting place…Oh how much I thank you my Jesus! I thank you for this space filled with the joy of you. This is my place of retreat, where I come to learn all your mysteries and rejoice in your unfailing love.
My Rabonni, your eyes seek me and I encounter yours in an unending song of praise! How do you love me so much? How do you seek me so much? I am breathless…my heartbeat stop at your majesty. I close my eyes, and I lay in your arms, and my garden transforms into an eternal bliss of me in you and you in me.