On the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, May 31, we began our Mary Garden at Immaculate Conception Monastery in Jamaica, New York.
Mary Gardens, dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, appeared in 14th century Europe following the Black Death, a pandemic that caused millions to die in that part of the world. The gardens, usually found in monasteries and religious shrines, brought hope to people who feared the earth was bringing them death.
God gave Adam and Eve a garden, the Book of Genesis says. (Genesis 2, 8-28) Rising from the dead, Jesus proclaimed eternal life in a garden. (John 20,11-18) For early and medieval Christians, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was like a garden enclosed, flowers, plants and trees surrounded her, “our life, our sweetness and our hope.” As the “Mother of the living” she brought the promise of life to our world, Jesus, her Son.
Can a Mary Garden bring hope today to our world that faces climate change and environmental degradation? Mary reminds us creation is a gift of God’s love. A Mary Garden teaches reverence for creation, for the soil, for plants that feed and bring us healing, for flowers that nourish our sense of beauty.
Yes, science and technology play their part in an environmental crisis, but faith has a part to play. We’re planting a Mary Garden!
A Reading from the Book of Genesis
This is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens there were no plants on the earth, no grass on the fields, for the LORD God had sent no rain and there were no human beings to till the ground, but a stream was welling up out of the earth and watering all the surface of the ground and the LORD God formed a human being out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and he came to life.
The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,* and placed there the one whom he had formed… to cultivate and care for it. (Gen 2, 4-15)
Let us Pray
Praise the Lord who is good,
Sing to our God who is loving,
To the Lord our praise is due.
Who covers the heavens with clouds
and prepares the rain for the earth.
And makes mountains sprout with grain
and plants to serve our needs
You know the number of the stars
and call each one by name.
Bless the earth we break open today
to be a garden in praise of your name,
where we honor Mary, the mother of your Son.