Real Life Prayer Gardening


Brown dog sitting in front of a flower garden.
What your prayer life needs is a Frisbee dog.

My first luminous mystery this week went to Margaret Rose Realy, the Catholic Gardening Lady.  She’s the author of A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time, which is the book that helped me create what you see in this very attractive cell phone photo.  I think of her a lot this time of year, because I pray poorly indoors, so I end up going outside, and sometimes even end up in the official “prayer garden” part of my yard.

What you see:

Plants that aren’t dead.  Took a lot of trial and error, and finally a husband who installed an irrigation system, to discover species that could survive this particular corner.  It faces southeast and is not shaded, and thus in the summer average morning temperatures are in the triple-digits.  Early spring is the only time it looks quite this cheerful — in part because there’s a preponderance of early-spring-blooming plants, since nothing put in the ground after May 15 is likely to survive, and the garden store always sells in March – April that which blooms in March – April.

Seashells. That’s the blurry mass of white stuff in the center.  The first time we went to the beach with the kids, several years ago, I collected a bazillion seashells. I can’t help myself, they’re all so interesting, even the broken the ones.  Especially the broken ones.  So I had all these grocery bags of damp, salty, seaweed-y seashells.  And of course I live in a very small house, if you calculate size by creating a ratio of junk-to-square-feet.  So where to put the seashells? And then I remembered that seashells come from outside, and thus . . . they can stay outside.

This makes me happy, because it means when I go to the beach, I can bring home as many shells as I want.  You can’t say that about many things.

A garden gnome.  Thus far I’ve failed in my efforts at acquiring a suitable piece of sacred art for the prayer garden.  Meanwhile, we had this gutter running right through the view from our screen porch.  I kept trying to hide the gutter, which is not attractive even by people-who-collect-junk standards.  Finally I gave it up, and claimed the spouse’s garden gnome from another corner of the yard.  He (the gnome, not the spouse) was appointed master of the waterworks.  He’s got a large overturned flower pot, broken just right, for a cottage, and a collection of overturned broken tea cups for his various pets.  The place is so much homier now that there’s someone to keep company the toad that lives behind the bush.

Rosary Dog.  I’m a sucker for a good ball dog, always have been.  So now the dog knows that when she hears me grab a plastic rosary off the hook in the kitchen, it’s time to bolt outside and find a toy.  In this photo she’s posing with her chewed-up Frisbee, but FYI it’s actually easier to pray while throwing a tennis ball.


So that’s my report.  Cheer up Margaret Rose Realy (who could use it) by reporting in with your garden updates.  Thanks!