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Gardening has always given us a sense of well-being and a connection to something greater than ourselves. The fruits of our labor can now bring us closer to our faith in the form of a prayer garden. The very act of gardening is often an act of faith - faith that the seeds we plant will reward us with their beauty and their gifts. And there is a wonderful, calming simplicity to our lives when we take the time to work the good earth in our hands. When we take the opportunity to build our faith through our labors, we share that optimism and hope with all who happen upon our prayer gardens. And you don’t need to live in a monastery - what better way to demonstrate your love of life and your faith than to devote a portion of your home to a visual representation of that faith? And in fact, didn’t mankind first reside in the Garden of Eden? The ultimate aim of the prayer garden should be to provide you with a natural retreat that nourishes your faith and feeds your soul. Therefore consider the layout and landscaping choices you wish to make. Hedges are a wonderful way for you to define property lines and secluded avenues within your garden. And consider the blooming seasons of each of the flowering plants you add so that you may have something stirring and beautiful to enjoy the year round. Decorative rocks and gravel paths will help you weave a peaceful tapestry through your garden. Many find small trees and a fish pond or trickling waterfall or fountain a moving addition to their prayer gardens. And don’t forget to give yourself a few key spots where you can sit and reflect. Benches of stone, wrought iron, or hewn wood can give you wonderful secluded areas to pause and think, or to just enjoy the natural beauty of your prayer garden. There are other wonderful symbols of ornamentation you can add as well, and each can have their own significant place in your daily spiritual walk. Statues representing the Virgin Mary, St. Benedict or St. Jude are appropriate additions and will add the proper touch of austerity and serenity. Perhaps a motif of angels will add that touch of reassurance you seek. Many find a single stone column to be a peaceful and reassuring display. Garden crosses, stone grottoes, or ornate pedestals can also add to the spiritual solace a well-planned prayer garden offers. Or perhaps you’ll find peace in a vine-wrapped trellis. Many find the symbolism of the grapevine to be a wonderful acknowledgment of the transformation of the blood of Christ into wine. Look inside yourself to find the symbols that will touch you the most, and you will find your prayer garden to be a meaningful and enduring symbol of your faith. Work it well, and your spiritual path will be a literal one of beauty and peace. Tend it with care, and your prayer garden will continue to delight and comfort its visitors for years to come.

This article was published on Saturday 09 May, 2009.

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