To find the inner garden, one must seek a silent heart. The door to the garden is opened in silence, a silence that is not forced, not solely an act of the will. Rather, it is a silence received as pure gift. One must receive this gift of silence with an open heart, a heart that stands ready to receive anything and everything from the Lord, from the Beloved.
Love also is necessary for this journey into the garden. Love is pathway through the garden, the means by which one explores and discovers the riches of the interior life. Love points to different things within the garden and says, “Here, look at this flower,” or “Don’t you notice how the sun strikes the leaf here.” Love is the sensitivity to the play of light and shade in the garden.
One journeys to this place and enters this garden by unknowing and by a surrender that has been called a kind of darkness. Within this lies true humility because when one enters the garden of the heart, one stands before everything and before the infinite in a posture of complete surrender. It is not so much the opinion that I am unable to grasp and understand everything, but rather the actual knowledge that I cannot understand and grasp everything. I “see” the whole, and in seeing I realize that I am unable to know. I see the whole, and in seeing I come to know that I can never fully know or understand. I call this garden because in the midst of this unknowing I am able to journey into the heart which I cannot imagine, but which is real nonetheless.
To find the garden, seek to love and to enter ever deeper into love. And what is this love if not that God has loved us first and sent his Son for our salvation. I know that I am loved and in knowing I am transformed. In being transformed, I learn to love. By loving and being drawn out of myself, I learn to rely less on myself and my abilities, and more where he wants to lead me.
The inner garden is an experience, and thus is at the center of all things. We must experience God, and through this experience we must grow in wisdom. But where do we find God? Where do we experience the inner garden? We are capable of experiencing God in all things, but we must learn first how to see. The height of this experience is the Eucharist, the pouring out of the love of God in the Mass, and it is through this great gift that we learn to see the world. We gaze upon the face of our Eucharistic Lord, and through the darkness of faith, we enter into the mystery of God. The more we see God in the Eucharist, the greater our sight becomes. Then we enter the world, and we see it as it truly is for the first time because our eyes have been trained by gazing upon the face of the Eucharistic Lord.