Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Watering the Garden of Your Soul

In her writings on prayer, Teresa of Avila used the image of our soul as a garden in need of watering. According to Dwight Judy, she imagined our souls as "barren soil, full of weeds. God pulls the weeds and plants the seeds, but our part is to cultivate the garden (Judy, D. Embracing God: Praying with Teresa of Avila, p.78)." About watering the garden, Teresa writes:
You may draw water from a well (which is for us a lot of work). Or you may get it by means of a water wheel and aqueducts in such a way that it is obtained by turning the crank of the water wheel. (I have drawn it this way sometimes--the method involves less work than the other, and you get more water). Or it may flow from a river or a stream. (The garden is watered much better by this means becayse the ground is more fully soaked, and there is no need to water so frequently--and much less work for the gardener.) Or the water may be provided by a great deal of rain. (For the Lord waters the garden without any work on our part--and this way is incomparably better than all the others mentioned.
How do you understand this metaphor? What does your spiritual life/prayer life look like when you are trying to draw water from a well, or turning the crank of a waterwheel? What does your prayer life look like when the nourishing moisture comes from a river or stream? And finally what does it look like when you are nourished by rain sent from God? In what ways are we at work, if at all, when receiving nourishing waters in this way? Please share your insights in the comments so we can all benefit from each other.

1 comment:

  1. I tend to need lots of time praying and reading the Bible to feel "watered," like hours everyday. I know other people who seem to need a lot less - they still bear good fruit with much less effort. I've always wondered about that. Maybe God has different, preferred ways of working with different people.