My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
ON THE GARDEN OF
"God shall be with you continually, and you shall be satisfied
as your soul desires. Your bones shall be enriched, and YOU SHALL
BE LIKE A WELL-WATERED GARDEN and like a spring of water
that does not fail" (Isaiah 58:11).
There is no better description of the heart than a flower garden. A beautiful garden filled with aromatic and colorful flowers. Along with the garden, of course, there must be a diligent and caring Gardner. The good soil he has received is from none other than God Himself. In addition, God provided the seed, the sun’s warmth, the rain, and the energy to grow.
The Gardner has assumed the responsibility to work hard for long hours to make certain that no weeds are growing and stifling the growth of the flowers or being chocked by aggressive weeds. Therefore, the Gardner must be constantly alert that nothing interferes with his garden, including the ferocious insects who present a real threat to his plants. Ultimately, however, everything depends on God, who is always in charge of His Creation and its longevity.
Our special and unique garden, our very own heart, must not be neglected. We have undertaken to tend and watch over it carefully and responsibly. The spiritual condition of our heart is strictly up to us and our decisions affect it immediately, either for the better or for worse. Just like a garden, it constantly needs to be taken care of. All the ingredients and all elements used must be the right ones to avoid harming it.
Weeds and insects that threaten the health of our beautiful flower garden can be easily compared to the passions, to evil thoughts, to wrong and negative feelings, to hate, to selfishness, to vanity, to greed, to envy, to slothfulness, to harmful phantasies, and to indifference. The Almighty God has given each of us all the spiritual ingredients that one needs in order to keep his/her heart vibrant and full of life and vigor.
What will nourish our heart is unceasing prayer, faith and trust in God, works of charity, compassion for others, and abiding by Christ’s commandments to prevent evil thoughts from poisoning it, avoiding pride, and always seeking God’s help and guidance for everything. Our Savior has given us a lifetime to till the soil of our heart, to cultivate it, to water it, to use the correct fertilizer, to make sure it has enough sun, and to pull up the weeds from it.
It takes a lot of love to have a good and beautiful garden, and so does a good and beautiful heart. We have all that we need to make this happen and to make sure the field of our own hearts is clear of all dangers. A good and virtuous heart leads to eternal life. Every man, woman, and child has the God-given ability and potential to succeed and keep the heart as beautiful as a flower garden.
As a young boy in my village in Greece, I remember that almost every home had a flower garden in front of it. The neighbors were proud of their individual gardens. If you asked them to give you flowers to take to your home, they were always willing to give you some. When you brought them home the house was immediately filled with fragrance and beauty. The flowers made you feel good inside and happy enough to forget all your problems and difficulties.
A beautiful flower garden may give us a slight glimpse of what awaits us in heaven. The glory, beauty, and joy in heaven are beyond our comprehension and imagination. Everything there is perfect and authentic. Nothing there, of course, is material, but everything is spiritual and eternal. Nothing there dies or decays, nothing loses its beauty, nothing ages, nothing needs replacing nor to be uprooted. Everything, as our Creator says, "is very good."
Everything begins here and now. To live in Christ is to live in eternal life. The stairway to His Kingdom is within each of us, in our immortal soul. "Cast off the burden of sin and you will find within you the upward path that will make your ascent possible." Just a few days ago, we celebrated the ascent of Our Risen Lord to His heavenly Kingdom and, therefore, we too must look forward to our own ascent to His Kingdom whenever we are called by Him.
May you all come to know your heart and the beauty and sweet fragrance within it. What a true blessing!
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Divine Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George