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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Garden as a spiritual oasis, March 15, 2011
This review is from: A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time (Perfect Paperback)
I was taken in by Margaret Rose Realy's use of the wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila in the opening words of the Preface of A Garden of Visible Prayer:

"A beginner must think of herself as one setting out to make a garden in which her Beloved Lord is to take his delight..."

Now, I'm a sucker for the saints, and St Teresa makes my Top Ten of all-time favs. But I had always read that quote as a spiritual tenet, as tending to the metaphorical garden of the heart of prayer. I never once considered it gardening advice... until, well, now. It is, indeed, both!

What's more, Margaret Realy -- a Michigan garden columnist in the Jackson Citizen Patriot -- got me reading about a subject I might have otherwise ignored. And that's saying a lot from a non-enthusiast. (Sadly, if we were talking about Top Ten lists again, gardening would not make mine.)

That is not to say I don't appreciate everything a garden is, and all the work that it requires. After all, I am a lover of flowers and birds and fragrance and beauty. I think there is something innate in us that draws us closer to the Creator, and his splendor, and his provision for us, when we are in a beautiful garden. So, I do really get the book's subtitle: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time. This book isn't just about gardening, its about how nature and landscape can "speak" to our spiritual sensibilities as well as our senses. I especially enjoyed Chapter 6 relating gardens to our preferences for color and fragrance.

Still, I kept reading. I've never really known much about plants and landscape planning, but this book is getting me there. And I love the spiritual perspective it brings to this task. Plus the assured hand-holding and direction it gives folks like me who never knew how to interpret a plant tag (until Margaret explained it in this book.)

I have a small "Mary Garden" in my backyard. It's been a place of prayer for me and just something that I look at with fondness during the harsher New England winter seasons that helps me hang on until spring. I want to keep that little garden patch a place, not only for prayer for my family, but a place of honor for the Blessed Mother. That said, I am very grateful for the book's appendix on Catholic Traditions in Prayer Gardens.

What a lovely surprise! Margaret Rose Realy's first book, A Garden of Visible Prayer, Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time is a warm and engaging "how to" that has as me anticipating spring in a new way.

Buy it now, for your favorite gardener or for the gardener wannabe. Or share it with the gardening team at your church! Endorsed by the Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval, of which I am a member, this book is a perfect gift for Easter, Mother's Day or Father's Day.

This is a 5-star read for its thoughtful language and gentility, but I gave it 4 stars for technical merit... I would have appreciated more color photographs rather than black and white. It just seems that book about gardens should have more color. Perhaps later editions of the book can have more color photography added?
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