Everything on Earth is Filled with Sacred Presence

Vena Eastwood, the gardener

Oblate, Vena Eastwood from Burnley, Lancashire (United Kingdom), delighted the sisters of the “This and That Club” with pictures and stories of her award winning garden, a garden that in her words has become “a visual expression of her Benedictine spirituality.” Located on the grounds of Benedict’s Barn, an ecumenical, Benedictine place of hospitality and spirituality, the garden reflects both the labor of her hands and her heart. For 10 years now Vena has called Benedict’s Barn home and made it available as a place and space for visitors and guests to seek God.

The garden is a quarter of an acre of simple beauty. While Vena admits that the planting of the garden was “rather random,” the desire and effort were not. Being a Benedictine Oblate, Vena chose the garden as a means of expressing the reverence for the wonder and beauty of creation that Benedictine monasticism has deepened in her. Everything about the garden speaks of the cultivation and care of beauty as a means of experiencing the presence of God. Gardening is hard work but its results are rewarding as the pictures tell. Vena’s hope is simple, “This garden is meant to give pleasure to all who come to enjoy it. There is nothing better for me than to sit in the garden after a hard day’s work, take in a sunset over Pendel Hill, and be able to say, ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills, from there comes my strength’(Psalm 121).”

Respect for the beauty and goodness of creation as a sacrament of God is one of the hallmarks of Benedictine monasticism. Take a few minutes to view these pictures of the garden, to contemplate the beauty of creation and meet God.

*The This and That Club is a weekly gathering organized by Sister Rita Zattosky with the help of Sister Helen Heher, Director of Wellness Services at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery. Sisters from the Infirmary and Assisted Living wings come together for movement activities, book discussion (presently discussing Happiness by Sister Joan Chittister), a movie, outreach project or information session, and always conversation and refreshments. Now in its fourth month, it has become clear that there is no end to the variety of activities that can bring the elders together, give them the opportunity to share with one another, and provide for interesting bits of “this and that” —all of which contribute to wholeness and well-being.