The Ever Changing Garden

March 2, 2010

Catholic Appeal

by Gina Lewis

There is a great lesson to be learned by watching the evolution of a garden, and that is:  It is not necessary to move mountains in order to change the landscape.  Sometimes all that is necessary is to plant a single seed.  In the garden, there is a time to lay a new walkway or remove a tree, transplant a division or weed a bed.  Every labor, whether dramatic or mundane, transforms the garden into the image envisioned by the gardener.

My mother-in-law’s garden combines wildly riotous blooms with artful arrangements of texture, height and hue that blur the line between nature and design.  But her garden is more than the flowers that bloom there.  Walk and wall, fence and trellis, patio and swing define the space, lend support and provide an inviting place to sit and be.  But what I once thought were permanent features, lovingly erected by family members, proved through the decades to be far more temporary than I could have known.

I remember my horror the day I arrived to the sight of my father-in-law tearing up and hauling away the patio that the family had spent one summer hammering into the earth, brick by brick, on hand and knee, because my mother-in-law had imagined the space anew.  Last year, she removed the swimming pool and surrounding fence, and announced that the screened house that my husband and brother-in-laws built would be coming down soon.  I can’t imagine what will become of the great void in the middle of the back yard, but I trust that mother-in-law can.  Indeed, I suspect that in her mind, the new landscape is as fully-formed as any that her artist’s hand has already set to canvas.

Like her ever-changing garden, the landscape of the Archdiocese of Boston is in transition, and some of the changes have been distressing.  Yet, as I walk along the southern border of this garden and gaze across the barren winter landscape, I see the sun streaming into once-shadowed places, and order emerging with new pathways and well-placed supporting structures.  I sense in these changes the same familiar, deliberate intent that accompanies the changes in my mother-in-law’s garden, and feel comforted.

I have faith that the transformation we see and feel in our diocese is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and guided by a man of vision and careful planning.  I have the encouraging feeling that Cardinal Sean O’Malley and his inner circle of landscape architects can already clearly see a mature and flourishing Church of Boston, and they are merely laboring to reveal it.  I am eager to behold the beauty and vitality they have imagined for us; so it is with renewed confidence that I respond to the Catholic Appeal this year.

Gina Lewis is Business Manager at Sacred Heart Parish in Middleboro, MA.

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