Mystery Monk was shattered after a few days of Christmas festivities.
"Christmas is exhausting!" he declared.
"Celebrating takes a lot of preparation! It doesn't just happen.
My Mum always made it look so easy, the wave of a hand and a batch of cakes would appear, along with mince pies, dinners, clean clothes. Somehow she did all that, whilst bringing up a family, working AND without a lot of the modern aids we take for granted."
Mystery Monk looked out of the window at the sunshine, "..and she was a keen gardener too!"
The Abbot listened carefully. He knew the young monk was right. Much as they tried to live a simple life, and keep to a rhythm of prayer, Christmas still left them feeling weary and drained.
"Why don't you take a leaf out of your mothers book, and go and spend the morning in the garden?" he suggested.
Mystery Monk looked dubiously at the ice on the pond
"It looks pretty cold out there!" he protested.
"The garden is sheltered, the sun is shining. Once you get to work you will be warm enough. You won't be sat still out there, there is plenty of work to do!"
Mystery Monk looked at the borders covered in leaves, and the annuals that were now just sad reminders of their former glory.
"I will just get some tools out of the garden shed, and see how I get on." he decided, giving himself the option of retreating if it really was too cold to stay outside.
Mystery Monk set to work and was soon warmed by his exertions, as he steadily restored order to the garden, by removing the fallen oak leaves which were smothering the perennials and pulling up the skeletal remnant of the lobelia, which had succumbed to the recent frosts. He trimmed the crocosmia, which had changed from vibrant green to dull brown. He left the margarite daisies. They had withered during the recent cold weather. He hoped they would shoot again in the spring. "Time will tell..." he muttered to himself. Mystery Monk noticed the shoots from the grape hyacinth, and remembered how they had thought they were snowdrops last winter, and waited optimistically for the delicate white drooping heads to appear, only to realise their mistake when the blue flowers of the Muscari pushed their way upwards.
He smiled as he reached one of his favourite plants, the winter flowering jasmine, or Nudiflorum, with its delicate yellow flowers, that brighten the dullest days of the year.
"Hmm, you probably would have had a few more flowers, if we hadn't allowed that tomato plant beside you to grow 6 foot tall and smother you for most of the summer! We live and learn!"
Mystery Monk was a firm believer in talking to the plants in the garden. He believed that by speaking positive words to the plants, would keep him in the habit of being kind to others, even if they were challenging. The Abbot appeared just as he was admiring the brightness of the blooms. "May you always be a light to those around you, upright in nature, not seeking to rely on your own strength, but depending on the support you have been given."
"Thank you young monk" said the Abbot.
The young monk just smiled at the jasmine, who continued to silently brighten the border.
"There is nothing like spending time in the garden to help you get things back in perspective" Mystery Monk declared. The jasmine just nodded its blooms approvingly in the December breeze and kept her own wise counsel.
(C) RJH 2016