Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spiritual Spring and Gertrude

A Spring garden is a wonder of spiritual teaching and thought. Spring, I think, is the best of times. Plants that have hunkered down dully with the cold of winter begin to awaken, to stretch out with fresh growth. They flourish forth taking their place becoming a proper garden. This growth can almost be felt in the air, it for certain brings a fresh fragrance to it.

So with us. There are seasons of the soul. There are the dark wintry times when the soul is shapeless, lifeless, dull. Then something and Someone awaken us once again. Soft rains fall. The sun shines. Growth begins again.

Gertrude of Helfia, 1256-1302, was a German Benedictine mystic. Not a 'saint' in the canonized way of things, yet a woman of spirit, of influence and deep devotion. She loved lists. These she made for herself in order to keep the steps of her pilgrimage properly directed.

She begins one such list, a prayer really, with "Dear Jesus, make me perfect in fearing you. Make me pleasing to you in humility of purity of my heart, in the guarding of my senses, in the holiness of life...." She continues with a specific request for every aspect of her life that her life may be just that, a pleasing life of holiness.

It is in her closing thoughts that all these become Spring echos " the blessed consummation of your cherishing-love":

"so that the thorn bush of my heart may be converted
into a paradise of all virtues
and a red berry bush of total perfection,
as if it were a field blessed by the Lord,
full of all peace, holiness and devotion."

This Spring, it is my desire to remember Gertrude as I watch the fruit ripen, the color change on my garden's currant bush remembering the goal to be 'a red berry bush...blessed by my Lord, full of all peace, holiness and devotion.'


  1. Oh those are beautiful thoughts!
    I love the 'red berry bush of total perfection'. That just drips off the tongue so beautifully.

    Muddy footprints. :)

  2. Seasons indeed! holiness of the blessed consummation of life. Longing for spring in my soul.