“Ever full of sap and green. You shall produce fruit in old age.”
So says one of the psalms. When I came last year this time, I was overwhelmed by the beauty and prayer filled monastery behind the Begijnhof walls of which I am now a part. I wished to thank God…. so off to the small monastery chapel I went. The singing of the church offices and mass are said in the public church, a short walk across the courtyard. The small chapel within the monastery is where services are occasionally said if there is for example a concert in the church. My daily routine became going to the chapel after breakfast to say a few prayers of praise, thanksgiving and daily supplications and intercessions. A rather tall plant lives there; he has been there long before I came I suspect, but we became friends. I was fascinated last year…a new shoot sprouted from the bottom and seemed — no did, in fact — grow a few inches overnight (sort of like asparagus growing which I saw once as a child and never forgot). I watched each day, this shoot climbing, growing taller and sprouting leaves. At some point, the ubiquitous flower sister no doubt saw this and one day the sprout was supported to the main stem by a tiny but sturdy string. Now the growing switched to the main plant; the stem began to grow up up, up and new and stronger leaves sprouted and now the main stem is nearly on the altar. A few days ago I realized that, of course, all this growing has happened over a whole year’s time, in the dark of winter when I came to pray and now in the glorious sunlit days of summer.
There must be a message in all of this plant growing. My mother taught me to look to nature, God’s creation, for messages from God. My mother had a sorrow in her life about which she could do nothing but pray. However, she had a bush outside the summer cottage, an almond bush. Sometimes the almond bush was nearly dead, but no one was allowed to touch it or destroy it. Sometimes the bush would produce some weak blooms. This continued over many many years, all of my childhood and teenage years in fact. Then one summer the almond bush was covered with beautiful, sweet smelling blossoms. I know my mother believed these were the messages of God to her about her loved one. Albeit with the skepticism of adolescence, I watched and learned. God spoke to my mother through nature, His creation. There is then a message in the plant in the chapel… Hopefully, I am like the small new stem here at the Begijnhof being supported and giving support and like the tiny string we are attached and growing together. I like to think that is God’s message to me.
PS. Since this blog was readied for sending to the generous soul who posts it, two new leaves have sprouted one on the main stem and one on the support stem. Maybe the plant likes the notoriety on the blog!