Tending the Garden of the Soul

Each spring, our Associates gather for their annual day of reflection. In 2015, Sister Jane Riha talked about the spirituality of St. Clare of Assisi in her presentation titled, “Tending the Garden of the Soul.” Four Associates have jotted down their learnings to share here.


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by Associate Carol Kwaterski

There were a few key things I learned about St. Clare. The garden is a place of love where powerful things happened in Jesus’ life: the Agony in the Garden, and Mary Magdalene meets Jesus in the garden. Francis and Clare loved the natural beauty of the garden. Clare was fittingly known as the little sparrow.

You can’t understand Clare without understanding Francis. Francis and Clare were real people trying to find their way in life. They led parallel lives. Both loved the poor, the poor Christ. They led individual lives but looked in the same direction. They were elected by God together and collaborated together. While Francis busily darted about serving the poor, Clare spent her days in contemplative prayer. All Clare required for holiness was gazing upward to heaven. Clare wished to be a servant to her Sisters, often washing their hands and feet. As abbess she chose to sleep in the dormitory with her Sisters even after she became ill, which was the last 20 years of her life.

The Blessing of Clare concludes: “May the Lord always be with you and may you always be with Him.”


Sanderfoot Faith Assoc 2012

by Associate Faith Sanderfoot

St. Clare was a lot like St. Francis as she desired to consecrate herself to Jesus. Being born into a noble family she resolved to abandon the world in spite of her uncle trying to force her into marriage.

Her life inspired me as she persevered to embrace poverty and how she drew other ladies including her sister and mother to join her in founding the Poor Clares. Her love for the poor challenged me to really look at my life. How am I responding to the mission of sharing my time, talents and resources with those in need? How can I become more like St. Clare and Jesus who devoted their whole lives to caring for the poor?


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by Associate Luann Rodriguez

May 2 was a beautiful, sunny and warm day when the Associates gathered for the annual day of reflection. It was a very fitting day for the presentation by Sister Jane Riha. This year the reflection day was at the Motherhouse which is surrounded by spring flowers just starting to bloom and the sounds of birds rejoicing in the spring weather.  

Sister Jane presented the information about St. Clare within the metaphor of the garden.  During quiet reflection and personal prayer times I found myself sitting on a rocking chair overlooking a pond. I reflected on some words from the presentation such as, “Just as the seeds in the garden take time to grow, we must not be impatient,” and  “A garden is a place of love.” Both are reminders of our spiritual life and the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare who were faithful to the church, and tended and rebuilt the church “garden,” even in the face of adversity as seen in the videos presented by Sister Jane.


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by Associate Ron Sanderfoot

I really enjoyed the presentation on the life of St. Clare. She wanted to join St. Francis and his followers but Francis placed her in a Benedictine convent. When the convent was under attack, St. Clare was carried to a window where she held a monstance with the Blessed Sacrament and prostrated herself. Their enemies fled. I hope when things get tough, I have her courage.


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