We were enclosed (from Prayer 20)

by Catherine of Siena

English version by Suzanne Noffke, O.P.


We were enclosed,
O eternal Father,
within the garden of your breast.
You drew us out of your holy mind
like a flower
petaled with our soul's three powers,
and into each power
you put the whole plant,
so that they might bear fruit in your garden,
might come back to you
with the fruit you gave them.
And you would come back to the soul,
to fill her with your blessedness.
There the soul dwells --
like the fish in the sea
and the sea in the fish.

-- from Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, Edited by Jane Hirshfield

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

We were enclosed,
O eternal Father,
within the garden of your breast.


The metaphor of a garden to represent one's spiritual awareness is an ancient one.

Think about a garden for a moment. What is it? First, it is a place where things grow, a place of life. It is the opposite of death, which is the state of nonspirituality.

The plants of the garden are rooted in the earth, yet they reach upward toward the light of the sun.

On an even subtler level, a garden is a place of nourishment and of beauty. What grows in our spiritual gardens feeds us -- and the world -- through its "fruitfulness." The garden brings beauty, the awareness of harmony to our consciousness. The flowers of the garden represent the spiritual qualities that have opened within us, that in turn cause us to open to the Divine. The flowers are within us, and we are the flowers.

Also, a garden is often a place where lovers secretly meet. It is where we go to spend time in the embrace of the Beloved.

Finally, a garden is a place of contemplation and rest. It is a place where we give ourselves permission to simply be, to settle into the present moment. The garden represents the soul at rest in the living presence of the Divine.

In fact, the word "paradise" means... garden

--

Oh, isn't that a great phrase...

You drew us out of your holy mind
like a flower


But my favorite --

There the soul dwells --
like the fish in the sea
and the sea in the fish.


...The soul not separate from God, not even merely touching God. The soul within God, and God within the soul. The Eternal fills us and surrounds us and is our entire medium of existence.

Have a beautiful day!



Recommended Books: Catherine of Siena

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West Catherine of Siena - Passion for the Truth, Compassion for Humanity: Selected Spiritual Writings Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue: (Classics of Western Spirituality)
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We were enclosed