The Mansions and Gardens of Your Soul

ImageAt times I like to explore writings on Christian Mystics…here is what I found today.

“Although I have spoken here only of seven Mansions yet in each there are comprised many more, both above and below and around, with lovely gardens and fountains and things so delectable that you will want to lose yourselves in praise of the great God Who created it in His image and likeness.” ~Teresa of Avila~

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“In her book The Interior Castle, Teresa of Avila leads us on a journey  to explore the seven “mansions,” or rooms, that make up our souls. This quote comes at the end of her book, where she points out how rich and diverse our souls are. Even after all she has described , there is much more to explore — “above and below and around,” amazing endless spaces within our souls that will render us lost in praise. Have you made this journey, wandering among the mansions and gardens of your soul? What does your soul’s architecture, look like? If you haven’t visited yet, what is holding you back?” -Matthew Fox-

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I like the ideas that rise up with this text considering the spaces of our souls. The mansions and gardens. The “above and below and around”. Ever since I started writing this blog, I’ve been fascinated with living life from underneath…so this passage challenges me in living my life from underneath through the power of imagination.

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My Secret Garden

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“What do you want me to do?”, I asked again.

A voice inside said, “Write what you see.”

“I can’t. It hurts too much. All I see is pain and suffering on the faces. I feel it too. I feel it through the words I read or the voices I hear. It combines with my suffering until I can’t bear it anymore. You want me to write about all that?”

Silence.

“What about the joy?”  I asked,  “Can’t I write about that?”

“What do you see?” came the question again.

“I see closed windows, doors and gates to everyone’s secret garden. I see walls all around  keeping out intruders. I see boundaries and limits. I see a closed and lost world.”

The voice asked,  “What is in your secret garden?”

I looked and paused, finally muttering,”A space with a lot of weeds. I thought I had gardened.”

“Look again, what do you see?” the voice persisted, “What do you see everyday when you wake up?”

Joining hands with self-doubt, I  babbled, “What if all I see is pain and suffering? Who wants to read about that?”

“WRITE WHAT YOU SEE.” Then silence.

Pausing to breathe and break free from the grip, I asked myself: “OK, what do I see? Let’s start, with my life…I see routine and boredom. Ordinary familiarity. Day in and day out. Stop. What do I see about myself?” Not able to open my eyes, I tried another way.

I closed my  eyes and began again, “What do I feel about myself? Kindness and cruelty, together. Tenderness and bitterness; joy and anger, even rage.”

“Wait. I feel a hushed silence as if something is about to happen. There is a bird and some lemon trees situated in the shade, but the air is warm all around. There’s a voice singing. I see a young girl about 14 years old who didn’t want to move.”

All of a sudden, I remember where I kept a story I had written long ago when my family was moving from Pennsylvania to Arkansas.

A Look Out the Window

     Twilight had already dwindled away and rain was sharply falling upon the hard cement. City lights illuminated the pavement on the street. The vacated buildings were swallowed up by the dark foreboding clouds that loomed above them; making one feel insignificant. The rhythm of the rain went undisturbed upon the pavement except for an occasional car driving by. Once in a while I could see a lonely figure passing. 

     As I watched this melancholy setting, time seemed to turn back its dusty old pages as I remembered my childhood. An image of a little girl appeared on the sidewalk. She seemed down-hearted about something. A strange sensation came over me as I watched the little girl behold the dreary view before her.

     She had dark brown hair and a dark complexion. She didn’t appear any older than nine years old. Slowly she turned toward the window and lifted her gaze.  As our eyes met, I stumbled back, stunned at what I saw. It was my own face peering up at me.

    I quickly went back to the window, but no one was there. It still continued to rain and the clouds had become darker. A lonesome feeling tugged me from somewhere underneath. I definitely would miss the little town where I grew up. A slight dot on the map, which held many memories that I hoped wouldn’t fade. The prospect of the future though beckoned me onward to a new bend in the road.

My secret garden is a place of mysterious wonder with shadow and light, but what I see and feel right now is simply the pain and loneliness.

Malta 042