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Growing in Faith

I’ll never forget the day when, newly married, I walked into my kitchen and found several bunches of uprooted weeds on my granite countertops. I was horrified and found myself wondering about the man to whom I had just said, “I do.”  Upon entering the kitchen, my husband saw the look on my face and explained that those “weeds” were the remaining herbs from the garden he was preparing to winterize and that “we” had to do something with them quickly before they went bad. Oh great. So in addition to cleaning up the bug-infested vegetation in my newly renovated home, I had to rethink my meal plan for the week.

Over time, I have come to love my husband’s garden, in all its seasons.

Late May, in particular, is a time that brings a tinge of excitement for what lies ahead. The tender new plants grace the dark soil and foretell the bounty that is to come from the earth.

But along with the edible come also the fragrant and the beautiful. The herbs and flowers that we place around our garden each year assure that all of our senses are filled with the majesty and miracle of life that during the winter seems so completely lost and gone.

Often, I am reminded of the symbolism and meaning that plants and gardens play in Scripture and in our faith. The Garden of Eden was God’s earthly paradise. The inexplicable scent of roses has been perceived by saints and by those who have received miraculous visions of our Blessed Mother. Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane when he needed most to find peace and feel close to his Father. All of these things seem to suggest that the beauty of the earth’s produce is as important and special to our Lord as it is to us. To work with the earth and plants can be a way of cultivating and participating in the beauty of our Lord’s creation. As my father-in-law says every year as he puts his vegetable garden in behind his garage, “A garden is like a prayer.”

Religiously referenced pots

When potting herbs and flowers, I have enhanced the otherwise mundane terra cotta pot with a religious quote that relates to the plant. Follow these simple directions. If you need a few ideas for some fragrant, colorful or delicious plants to enjoy year-round, I supply a few suggestions along with a quote.

• Medium or large terra cotta pot(s)

• Flowerpot liner(s) or slightly smaller plastic pot(s) to fit inside

• Acrylic craft paint

• 1” or larger paintbrush

• Water based polyurethane spray

• 8.5” x 11” patterned paper

• Printer

• Scissors

• Glue stick

Begin by sealing the in-side of the pot with two coats of water-based polyurethane and let dry completely.

Decide on a paint style and apply two coats of acrylic paint to the outside of the pot.

Type and print out the quote (and name of plant, if you wish). Trim and adhere to the front of the painted pot. Cut out a paper frame and apply it over the printed piece.

Apply two to three coats of polyurethane on the outside to protect and seal your decorated pot and allow to dry completely. Plant desired herbs or flowers in plastic liner or pot and place inside the decorated pot.

• Roses: “God intervenes to allow the smell of perfume whenever he wants.” – Padre Pio

• Mustard: “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into his garden: it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.” – Luke 13:18-19

• Lavender: “Mary brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair; the house was filled with the scent of the ointment.” – John 12:3

• Lemon Grass: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.” – Psalms 103:15

• Lily: “Think how the lilies grow; they never have to spin or weave; yet, I assure you, not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of them.” – Luke 12:27

• Tomato: “Plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them.” – Jeremiah 29:5 “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds.” – St. Basil

• Aloe: “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.” – Proverbs 7:17