Like plants, people, too, need to germinate in the right
environment before they bloom. One monastic sister learned
this lesson from tending her garden. Other religious learn
similar lessons by their nurture of nature.
IGREW UP ON A SMALL FARM in Connecticut, so I guess gardening is encoded in my DNA. My paternal grandmother, my namesake, had a reputation as a mirac- ulous gardener and a whiz at grafting fruit trees. She also entered a monastery as
a young woman, although she then left to bring up younger siblings after her parents
died. So perhaps monastic life is also encoded in my DNA.
But as a child, I didn’t see gardening or religious life in my future. I was raised
Protestant, nominally—church on Christmas and Easter and occasional attendance at
Sunday school, which I liked, most of the time.
In my last year of high school, knowing I was headed for college but with my
future a blank after that, I discovered Catholicism and contemplative life, both at the
same time. In one fell swoop, I fell in love. Yet it took several years before I was ready
to embrace my faith and become Catholic. Once in, I knew right away that a monastery was for me. And so I entered one, but eventually it became clear that I hadn’t gone
about it the right way. I still needed and longed for contemplative life, but somehow I
had misunderstood what it was about.
cultivation BY SISTER ELIZABETH WAGNER
Wagner is a di-
and the founder
in Maine, a semi-
Rule of Saint
book Seasons in
My Garden was
lished by Ave
in the garden at