Spiritual Life

Your Heart, His Home: Praise for the Master Gardener

When I first moved into the cozy little house I rent, my yard, especially the backyard, was a bit of a disaster. A double lot and long neglected by previous tenants, what green there was was mostly weeds, and there were large, barren spots flooded with mud that bore a striking resemblance to the mud flats of Chugach Sound. (Just think “reeeally muddy.”)

Oh, but I had my plans. I didn’t see the yard for its weaknesses and bare spots, but for its potential. I told myself, I would rehabilitate it. I had an inkling that I should like to create a yard so lovely, the Lord himself would like to take a stroll in it in the evening, just like he did in the Garden of Eden. And we would walk and talk together …

So I attacked the soil and pulled up weeds and cultivated and tilled. In the flowerbeds, I planted crocus bulbs four inches deep with their tender heart-tips pointing skyward. I planted hyacinth, gladiolas, creeping phlox. My parents donated some hostas from their yard and because hostas are hardy, I planted those in the worst soil around the edges of the back yard. My efforts were filled with the deep satisfaction that comes with dirt and sweat and the promise of growing things.

And they were met with some success.

It was the main feature, the grass itself, which resisted my gardening genius. On multiple occasions, and admittedly with no clue what I was doing, I attempted to seed the lawn with patch seed, the kind meant for little trouble spots, not half a yard. And which, after a big rain, resulted in what can only be described as grass hair-plugs – little, collected tufts of grass where the seed had pooled in the rainstorm, a miniature staccato forest dotting the baldness.

I learned that building a garden and greening a yard takes some time, some seasons, some commitment, some help.

The human heart is not so different.

“We will come to you and make our home with you.”

In John 14:23, Jesus promises to those who keep his word that “my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” How I long to keep his word and to be the kind of heart and soul where Jesus readily makes his home. A lovely, quiet, gentle place where virtue blossoms and the fruits of the spirit hang low for plucking, where Jesus himself finds rest, joy, comfort.

When the Catholic Spirit asked me to become a regular columnist, I quickly landed on this title, “Your Heart, His Home” because I believe it encapsulates the deepest yearning of the human soul: to become home for the very Sacred Heart of Jesus.

How shall we prepare a place for him? What kind of home shall we be for the Lord?

After several years in my house, I take joy as I walk in the yard and watch my purple clematis climbing the trellis. It grows just behind my statues of the Holy Family, draping over their heads, a living canopy. I walk in my backyard, the grass strengthened now mostly by the efforts of a friend who donates his time to killing the plantain and seeding properly, and I thank the Lord for not giving up on me. I praise the Master Gardener for the seasons he has devoted to cultivating me, that I might bloom and blossom and bear fruit that will last.

Holy Trinity, I beg you, make your home with me.

Liz Kelly is the award-winning author of nine books including “Love Like a Saint” and “Jesus Approaches.” She speaks and leads retreats throughout the country. Visit her website at

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