Life begins with the vibrancy of youth at springtime, maturing to restful summer calm, producing a rich harvest in autumn and indeed letting go to something new in winter.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Carlow Nationalist.
This column appeared on 4 June 2008

Those of us who are lucky enough to have a garden perhaps have spent time tending to the needs of plants and shrubs in recent weeks. The garden is a fascinating place where life abounds. As we place our hands into the soil we feel in many ways the pulse that beats from the heart that is Mother Earth. It is uplifting for the soul to plant something small into the earth that with care and nourishment will grow and transform into something beautiful and unique. A colorful vibrant garden does not happen by accident rather it is the result of hard work where great care has been given to pruning, weeding, watering and nurturing. It is lovely to see so many gardens looking bright and cheerful this time of year.

Our garden may well indeed contain the story of our life journey itself. Life begins with the vibrancy of youth at springtime, maturing to restful summer calm, producing a rich harvest in autumn and indeed letting go to something new in winter. There is in all our lives a time when we as a people are invited to plant. God our Creator has invested and indeed planted so many gifts and talents into the depth of our own being. This seed of potential grows in an environment where love, acceptance, welcome and inclusion take place. When we don’t realize the many gifts that we all have been blessed with the opposite takes place, fear, resentment, hurt, judgment creates a place of poverty where the good planted will die and wither.

Of course even if never planted a shrub, or mowed a lawn, we are all called to be planters, on our journey through life. Life connects us to each other we cannot live in isolation, we are social beings. We all must care for seeds of potential that are planted in all our hearts. Where hospitality and welcome live so too does growth and fulfillment. A warm greeting, a friendly mile, a cup of tea with a neighbour or friend is that place of watering and nourishment that allows us to grow and blossom. This is most necessary especially for young people.

The early stages after planting, is the most vulnerable and because of this, it is also the time when most care and attention is necessary. Family life, is the fundamental place where nurturing and encouraging takes place most. It is in the context of our family life where we discover and learn most. I often wonder about the huge task and responsibility that it is to be a parent, the primary source of care and love for all the young. Parenting is that place of constant generosity, selflessness, and unconditional love. My prayer for all parents, is that the Lord will give you the health and strength, that is necessary, as you tend and nurture the treasures who live within your family garden. May all of us this summer, take time to plant, not just in our gardens but in our words of compassion and gentleness.