Many years ago, I took classes for contemplative spiritual companioning through my diocese. It was an interesting and challenging class. I was already a certified spiritual director, but I thought it might be a good idea to add to my experience and education.
One of the “exercises” we did towards the end of the two year course was an affirmation exercise. Each person was to write down what came to mind about each of the other students. And then our teachers would read them aloud.
If I were to sum up the affirmations said about me, what sticks out in my mind the most is that two different people wrote that I was like a “watered garden.” They were surprised as they had not discussed it with each other. I knew I had to pay attention.
“. . . And you shall be like a watered garden, like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.” – Isaiah 58:11
I am not sure if I really knew what the other students meant by those affirmations back then, but I have reflected often on this verse. What is its meaning for me?
As a spiritual director, I cannot bear fruit on my own. I cannot help others grow in their relationship with God by any power of mine. I need to allow the Holy Spirit to work through me and to guide me.
To be like a watered garden is to be nourished by God’s grace through prayer, the Eucharist, and the Word of God. To be like a watered garden means to allow oneself to be used by the Lord, to soak up His graces.
Many of us have experienced dry spells in our prayer life. We’ve experienced those times when we cannot seem to pray, or when we cannot hear God’s voice speaking to our hearts. We begin to worry if we will ever hear God’s voice again.
Then out of nowhere, the drought ends and the “rain” pours down on us. Out of nowhere, we again feel touched by God’s love.
So whenever I feel bad about myself, or I wonder if my ministry is all dried up, I pull out these slips of paper and I read the affirming words again. I still find comfort in them, even after all of these years.
I am comforted to know that others saw God working through me. I know I need to be open to receive His graces. And pray no matter how dry it gets.
And maybe God will continue to use me as that watered garden for others.
Have you gone through a dry spell in your prayer life? Who or what has been like a watered garden for you?
Copyright 2017 Colleen Spiro