Sharon – The Garden

What is love

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Monday was warmer than the previous day. John had talked with Robert for a while and then both went back to the hotel. He woke at five, but lay in bed for a while. He wanted to meet Sharon today, but he didn’t want to be too obvious. Still, he didn’t want to miss her either. Decisions, decisions!

He rushed through his shower and breakfast and found his way down Westend about seven-fifteen. When he got the church on Westend Sharon was already there talking with a teenage girl. As John came around the corner, and descended down the stone steps into the garden, he recognized the girl as one of the children from the revival on the previous night. Sharon was talking very happily with her, and she, in kind, was responding. Sharon looked up and acknowledged John as she continued to explain something to the girl.

“When you say it, say, ‘My Dearest Mother Mary, behold us, your children in prayer before your immaculate heart,’ and then ask for the grace, or virtue you wish.”

The girl answered, “But, my mother said ‘at your feet’ was the right way.”

“It is all right to do it that way, but realize that you stand before the immaculate heart of Mary when you pray the Rosary. Be aware that her heart is pierced for sins, and you pray for the relief of the sins of the world when you pray the Rosary. So, you see, you stand before her immaculate heart.”

The young girl held up her Rosary, “Our Dearest Mother Mary, behold us your children in prayer before your immaculate heart. . . ”

Sharon grasped the girl’s hands and exclaimed, “Yes, yes, now you have it. Also, during your ‘Our Father’, never say, ‘. . . lead us into temptation,’ say instead, ‘not let us fall into temptation.’ The Lord would never lead you into sin, you lead yourself through the desire of your own flesh, and you fall as a result thereof. Pray to God to help you resist temptation. He gave Faustina a golden sash to help her.”

John was absolutely amazed at the way Sharon spoke so matter of factly about such matters. No Bible, no notes, just her own ideas. Still, she commanded the respect of the girl. She motioned for John to sit and said, “This is Michelle. She’s a very spiritual lady.”

“You were at the revival last night, weren’t you?”

“Yeah,” the girl replied, “I go to ‘Holy Joe’s’ every now and then. He’s the greatest!”

“Are you Baptist?”

“Heck no! I’m Catholic.”

John didn’t want to open the can of worms, so Sharon opened it for him, “She follows the spirit, John. Joe’s a
good man. He does the will of God. Michelle here appreciates that. You don’t understand?”

“No, no, I think it’s great. I’ve just never seen the two faiths so . . . mixed, that’s all.”

“They’re not mixed. Are you baptized?”

“Well, of course I am.”

“Were you baptized, ‘ In the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit?”

“Yes, I was.”

“Well, so do the Catholics. Same baptism, same God.”

“I was immersed.”

“I wasn’t.”

John wanted to get off of this subject while the young girl was there so he asked, “Well, what did you think about last night?”

“Hey, you were cool. I mean, you didn’t come on like no preacher or nothin’. I can get into it. You ain’t heavy or nothin.”

“Do you know anything about the Baptist faith?”

“Yeah, sure. I seen Elmer Gantry.”

John winced visibly. Michelle continued, “What is Love. Love is the morning, and the evening star. . . ” She stood up on the garden bench mocking the movie, playing out the scene.

John laughed, and waved her back down to the bench, “OK, OK, you’ve made your point. Did I come across like that?”

“No, you were good last night. You were, like, talking with us, not at us, you know?”

“Yeah, I know. What were you two talking about when I came up?”

Sharon spoke up, “Michelle was asking me about the Rosary. I was explaining to her how to incorporate Mary’s immaculate heart into the prayers.”

“Oh, I see,” John said. “What about the ‘Our Father,’ thing?”
Sharon explained, “In the ‘Our Father’ the words are, ‘.. . and lead us not into temptation.’ I was explaining to Michelle that God, the Father, would never lead his people into temptation. The Devil does that. God allows us to be tested, but he personally does not trick or lead us into anything evil. When
Matthew wrote his gospel, he wrote the words of Jesus in Hebrew, and the rest in Greek. The translation is impossible, but the meaning is there, if you know how to look.”

John eased back. He wanted to ask more questions, but he didn’t want to appear stupid, and he really didn’t buy into any “hearts,” immaculate or otherwise. “Sharon, I was looking at that little Rosary you gave me. I don’t really understand how you can justify the repetitive prayers you say. Do you know what I mean?”

“Well, yes, and no. You don’t like the prayers, or the fact that they are said over and over again?”

“Well, let’s just start with the repetitive nature of the Rosary. I think we can work on that for a while.”

Sharon reached into her jean pocket. John held up a finger quickly and said, “Not the gum! Every time I see that blasted gum. . . ” She laughed and pulled out a roll of breath mints.

“All right,” Sharon began. “You can’t see repetitive prayer. John, is your mother still alive?”

“Yes, she is.” He knew she was circling him, but he didn’t care. It was a pleasure just watching her work her argument up.

“When you go to see her, do you tell her you love her?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Does she get angry with you if you remind her several times in a day that you love her?”

“Well, no, I suppose she wouldn’t get mad. But if I said it fifty times, she might get a little irritated.”

“Well then, have you ever had a favorite song? Something you heard that was so good that you ran to the record store and you bought a copy, and you took it home, and you just wore it out! You loved the song so much you couldn’t hear it enough. And, after it was gone, even years later, the song on one of the ‘oldies’ stations would still bring a tear to your eye, you loved it so much. Ever done that?”

“Well, yes, I suppose everyone’s done that.”

“That’s how much our Lord loves his children to pray. He never tires of the song. And, if the prayer, repetitive or otherwise, brings the person praying peace and consolation, can you imagine how much more peace and joy it brings our Lord when he hears it. And, he hears all of them John. The earth is one continuous prayer going up to heaven like beautiful aromas. They are presented to Jesus like a beautiful basket of flowers by Mary.”
Her arguments were never arguments. They were expressions of love. Her total lack of aggression put John in a mode of acceptance, and yet he could not accept her doctrines. She sat there and looked at him. As he looked into her eyes the appearance of her face seemed to mellow. There were no lines in it. She was like a child who had just eaten a bowl of ice cream and was happy with it. They were sitting in a physical garden, and now she was gently taking him by the hand and leading him into a spiritual garden.

He opened his mouth to speak, but she spoke first, “John, we were chosen before the beginning of the world. The Lord, our God chose you and I to be in this particular garden, at this particular time for this particular purpose. Do you know what the purpose is, John?”

His great theological answer that he’d been working up flew out of his mind. All the could say was, “No, I don’t.”

“And I can’t tell you. I wish I could, but I can’t. You have total freedom of will, John. That’s one of the greatest miracles. God creates creatures that can do what they want, and he won’t force you to do anything. All he gives is his Spirit to help
guide you, but only if you listen. If you have ears, you will hear. You must listen to the Holy Spirit, and he will tell you why you are here. All that I can tell you is that we are both here by the will of God.”

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