Between the recent heat wave and lots of schoolwork I did not walk out to the arboretum for over a week. When I finally walked out there yesterday I was startled to see how much the prairie grasses had grown in just a week’s time and how they had blossomed out into glorious color. Grasses that had been ankle and knee high last week were now up to my waist, and some even to my shoulder. The colors were vibrant, rich, lush, spilling over with glory.
There is a small interpretive display at the entrance to the trail that references the role of fire in keeping a prairie healthy. Periodic fire – whether natural or through an occasional controlled burn – keeps predatory and invasive plants at bay and clears away the deciduous overgrowth that can crowd out the native grasses.
Reading about the role of fire in keeping the prairie so healthy and beautiful reminded me of times of retreat, of those periods of sustained silence in which God can clear out the interior overgrowth that prevents the flourishing of the good seed of God’s Word. in our hearts
Of course faithfulness in daily prayer accomplishes much the same. Psalm 101:8 reads, “Each morning I clear the wicked from the land, and rid the Lord’s city of all evildoers.” Whenever we come to that verse during the Liturgy of the Hours, I think of offering my heart – the Lord’s city – to the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, clearing out and ridding my heart of all that crowds out the love of God.
From now on when we chant that verse I will probably think of the prairie, of the colorful and beautiful grasses that cover this good land, and of the purifying power of prayer to clear away all that keeps my heart from spilling over with the glory of God.
Postscript: The photo above is from back home at Sacred Heart. One thing I did not bring with me this summer was a camera. I have been content to use photos either from my previous summer here or from home, but yesterday I was sure wishing for a camera to capture the many hues that covered the land. Here’s a link to a picture of one of the great variety of flowers in the Abbey Arboretum.
I’m headed back home in just a few days. Cannot wait to return home to my dear Sisters in Cullman!