16th February 2018

It is snowdrop week at Altamont Gardens, Ballon, Co. Carlow. The garden is worth a visit at any time of the year but especially now when the snowdrops are in full bloom.  At first sight the white flowers are everywhere and from a distance they all look the same. A closer look with the assistance of an expert guide reveals that there are nearly a hundred different varieties in bloom at the moment.  Eye to eye contact with a single flower goes to the heart of its individual variety and beauty.

The Genesis story of creation tells us that in the beginning God created a beautiful garden and then created man and woman to care for it and enjoy it.  The story goes on to tell that in the course of time the first humans lost their sense of ownership and enjoyment and were expelled from the garden.  We now know more about how creation happened and how it is endangered and abused than we did when the Bible was written. Here is the new story in a nutshell.

In the beginning there was nothing and out of that came fire and air and eventually earth  and sea. When the first light of the sun broke though the mists earth responded into life. Creatures developed in the waters and vegetation sprang into life from the rain soaked earth.  Insects came to life depending on the grass and the flowers and the trees for food and these in turn made it possible for the birds and mammals to come alive and find sustenance for their development.  Then human beings emerged capable of appreciating and responding to everything that exists and the mysterious source of their own existence.  Through human eyes and sense of wonder, God was now able to rest and appreciate the work of creation where everything is connected and interdepedent emerging from one source. All of this happened over the course of 13.7 billion years. The human evolution in the story took place during the last ten million years.

Could the Lenten journey of prayer and self denial be an invitation to return to the garden of life and appreciate its wonders?

If you are anywhere near Altamont this weekend, drop in to say hello to the snowdrops.  They are guaranteed to lift your heart with a sense of wonder and praise.  That’s how real prayer begins.  If it is not possible to visit a garden, stand outside the house, breathe the air, feel the sunshine or the rain and be filled with joy for all the wonders of life that surround you and the miracle of life that you are.