Sr. Kathryn Jean Hermes, FSP: “Hope Teaches Me to Live Differently”

I have a favorite image of God as a gardener. Perhaps a bit simplistically, the Genesis accounts of creation can foster the idea that God said, “Let there be light” and—shazam!—there appeared the sun in place of the darkened sky. Let there be trees. Let there be lilies. Let there be tulips. Let there be squirrels. Let there be chipmunks. Let there be grass. Let there be acorns for the squirrels to eat. With something like a magic wand we could picture God populating the earth with varieties of plants and animals.


However, my image of creation is much simpler. I picture God kneeling on the ground, a small shovel in hand, and behind him a wheelbarrow filled with tiny plants he has created. He is quietly planting the garden himself, finding just the right spot for each of his plants. He knows each needs just the right amount of sun. He moves quietly, communicating total peace—no goals to achieve, deadlines to meet, people to impress. God is completely at rest as he plants his garden. And I kneel next to him. My knees in the dirt, my sleeves rolled up, shovel in hand. I kneel next to God on the surface of the earth—agitated, nervous, anxious to finish before I even start. Trying to imitate, to learn, studying his method, absorbing the settledness that surrounds him as he works.


“What a wildly wonderful world, God!

You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,

Made earth overflow with your wonderful creations….


The glory of God—let it last forever!

Let God enjoy his creation!…

Oh, let me sing to God all my life long.” (Psalm 104, The Message)


Being in close proximity with another for a length of time gives us the opportunity to really know each other. It is hard to hold up the masks that hide our real self from others when they can see all our actions, hear our conversations, listen in on our phone calls, receive the deepest feelings in our hearts—tears, smiles, anger, the works. So as I kneel next to God the Landscaper on these first days of creation, I am letting him know me as much as I am getting to know him. God surrounds himself with beauty.  Not only is creation beautiful, but his every movement, the peace that flows from him. God invites me to be beautiful—to have a beautiful spirit, to live in a lovely kindness, to pass the time in a gracious patience.


Little by little, each time that I pray, I allow myself to relax a bit more in the divine Landscaper’s presence, allow myself to be mentored, comforted, nurtured. Gradually, I grow in an unwavering hope in the One who gently plants the gorgeous garden of creation. As the flowers allow themselves to be planted in the garden in the place that gives God the most happiness, I learn to rest in the reality that this God is good and He is love. He wants only my happiness and I can safely entrust to him the care of obtaining it for me.


“The one who hopes lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life” (Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi).





One Response to “Sr. Kathryn Jean Hermes, FSP: “Hope Teaches Me to Live Differently””

  1. Kathleen Techler Says:

    What a lovely picture–God as a thoughtful gardner. I’m going to remember that.

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