First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on September 12, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/authors/lisa-rumpel
My interior life felt dried up like the dirt in my planter pots. I needed a good watering of prayer and the sacraments to feel refreshed again. I was worried and my body was physically sore.
I overworked my muscles from dancing. I needed to take a break and then I fell out of a workout and prayer routine. I was in acute pain so it stopped me from feeling like I could exercise.
In my tiredness, I neglected my prayer life.
Lord have mercy on me.
Every indoor plant I own was a gift. And my task is to keep them alive. I love admiring gardens but never took to gardening before. My limiting belief is that I don’t know how to tend to the fragile plant life.
“To plant a garden, you believe in tomorrow.” (Audrey Hepburn) I want to become more of a gardener. Becoming a gardener is a lot like becoming a saint.
I try to do the best thing for the plants by giving them sunlight and water. And I seek God’s will for my daily life.
I will search for God in all the wounded places of my heart. And in the beauty of the beach and delicate flowers. This summer I spent many days at beaches swimming in the salty water and soaking up the sunshine. I also walked through Van Dusen gardens and neighbourhood gardens enjoying lush golden chain trees and roses.
I love the poem by Emily Dickinson To My Quick Ear the Leaves Conferred because it shows how much nature fills our lives.
“To my quick ear the leaves – conferred –
The bushes – they were bells –
I could not find a privacy
From Nature’s sentinels” (excerpt, by Emily Dickinson)
My three plants: Tradescantia nanouk (purple and green), spider plant and Zamioculcas zamiifolia (with waxy leaves) are all growing to my surprise. I started to talk to them as I give them water or dust their leaves. I think I’m becoming a plant mom.
I look forward to having more plants to tend. Jazz has many plants around our apartment which make our place feel both wild and cozy. She has a natural skill at keeping them healthy and happy. She is inspiring.
As plants need certain things to thrive, there are ways of thriving in the interior life.
My first step towards a more flowing faith was to make my way to confession. If my heart is achy and my desire to pray is low, I know it’s time to spend quality time with Jesus. Confession and Mass are in order.
“The root choice is to trust at all times that God is with you and will give you what you most need.” Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love
I traveled to the Cathedral in the morning. I arrived early and the doors were locked. I grabbed an orange juice to go and sat in the park across from the church. The sun beat down on me as I silently prepared my heart for confession.
Pigeons walked past me and one flew a little too close to my head for comfort.
Having a diagnosis of a mental illness can be uncomfortable too. Sometimes, I worry if people will accept me for who I am in health and in sickness. I am blessed with such a supportive and understanding family. They have actively learned about mental illness and mental health to better help me.
We all rally around each other in the good times and the bad. I have friends who will send a hot meal when our family is experiencing a trial. Knowing that people are praying for your healing makes such a difference as well. These are no small things. It’s the small things that are the big things.
When I finished my confession and was praying my penance a sense of deep gratitude washed over my body. A few tears welled in my eyes, and I knelt in awe and wonder at God who is so loving and merciful.
I sat in front of the tabernacle to adore Jesus. My heart felt lighter, and it filled with hope.
And I repeated, “In the name of Jesus Christ I accept the truth that I am good. I am beautiful. I am forgiven. I am worthy of heaven.” (Fr. Crow, from Episode 97. Spiritual warfare Tell-all with Fr. Crow. on the What in the Dang Heck Podcast) https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/spiritual-warfare-tell-all-with-fr-crow-part-1
In this episode, he explains that speaking these words can renounce lies about ourselves. Especially if we say, “In the name of Jesus.” Fr. Crow says we don’t want to give demons the foothold by believing we are destined for lives of loneliness or thinking that we are fat and ugly.
A lot of healing can come from speaking in the name of Jesus Christ and renouncing these lies.
As I sat in the pew in the beautiful gothic Cathedral, I felt loved by Jesus and renewed in spirit. Jesus says in scripture not to worry and to be not afraid.
I will learn to garden and to trust in the unwavering mercy of God. He loves me with or without a mental illness. I will lean into his love like my ZZ plant does.