Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Husband as Gardener

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Brueghel, Jan the Elder

With the acceptance of divorce by Christians, the idea of the husband as gardener has slipped from our imaginations.  This God-given role is a beautiful one, indeed.  It is explained brilliantly in True Men As We Need Them by Rev. Bernard O'Rielly.  I've read the following passages too many times to count, and they always inspire me.

The idea is first introduced in Chapter II, "Creation Of A Home, The First Work":
Adam had been created outside of this Garden of Delights, in some less favored portion of the vast domain reserved for his descendants.  He thus was enabled, when transferred by his Divine Benefactor to the earthly paradise, to judge by comparison of the immense superiority of his new abode to all that his eyes had beheld hitherto.  This brief experience prepared him to improve by his own husbandry even the teeming soil of paradise, and to guard with unwearied watchfulness the untold wealth,--intrusted to him not only in all the produce of this fairy spot, but in his own soul and its destinies, in the companion soon given to him in Eve, in their united innocence and bliss, and in the welfare of their offspring.
Thus, in the Home bestowed on him who first on earth bore the name of father and discharged its duties, we find that there was imposed a double law, regarding solely home-happiness and well-being,--the law of labor and of vigilance.
This law is still the blessed necessity which ennobles the life of man, and creates within his earthly home all that it can possess of bliss and nobleness:  Every true man has to work to create his home, when he has it not; to preserve and increase its stores, where he receives it by inheritance, and he has to watch over its honor, its happiness, its security, with a most loving care.
Then, in Chapter IV, "Paradise As Realized In The Home Of The True Man," I will share three most edifying paragraphs under the subtitle, "How a True Man should Choose his Companion, and Cultivate her Heart."  May that phrase, "cultivate her heart," be the mantra of all young husbands!
We must not, however, anticipate on what has to be treated fully in its proper place.  Suffice it to say at present, that even when parents have solely consulted the Divine Will and the best interests of their son in choosing for him or in directing his choice,--or even when he has been given a woman endowed with all the natural and supernatural graces that make her a treasure beyond price,--much, very much remains for the young husband to do if he would call forth all the wealth of his treasure, and apply it to the best uses.  (emphasis mine)
A rich womanly nature demands to be known, to be appreciated, to be developed by the deep love, the ingenious tenderness, the unfailing devotion, the delicate and respectful attentions, --ever growing in assiduity with each successive year,--of her young husband.
You have chosen, from out the varied wealth of the garden and the forest, the loveliest and rarest flower that attracted your eye; will you have it brighten and perfume your home to the utmost?  Then study its nature, its habits, what soil it likes best, what companions suit it (for plants and flowers also have their preferences), what degree of moisture, of heat, of shade, or of sunshine.  Gardeners will tell you that wild flowers from the meadow, the woods, or the mountains, will seem to change their nature under care of an intelligent and loving hand, and in a few seasons become so beautiful that they seem to have been transformed by culture.  Not that only; but the flowers most beautiful by nature are so much improved by the art of the gardener, that their charms are not only increased tenfold, but varied continually so as to create ever new surprise and delight.  And who does not know that the horticulturist's skill can enhance to a wonderful extent the qualities of the most delicious fruits of our fields or our gardens?
Fr. O'Rielly sums up the importance of "cultivating her heart" magnificently under the subtitle, "This is 'to Dress and to Keep' the Home-Garden":
To you, O man of the world, your home-garden, your paradise,--the source of your purest and dearest felicity on this side of the grave, is the mind and heart and soul of your wife, your companion, the mother of your children.  Her soul, her life, is given you "to dress and to keep;" and on your appreciating her nature and her worth, on your knowing how to call forth by your love, your care, your devotion to her service, by the sunlight of your examples much more even than by your mere love and tenderness,--must depend whether or not you shall have a home-garden, a paradise,--or a hell upon earth.
Is that not incredibly empowering for the young husband?  With loving care he cultivates the rose upon the trellis to burst into bloom and perfume his garden.  It is a labor of love, worthy of his best efforts.  How dramatically we could prune back the number of divorces if we taught young men to be cultivators of their wives' hearts!  This is why I encourage you, dear reader, to share this post.  We all desperately need this instruction on the lost art of husbanding a wife, as we each have opportunities to support Catholic marriages.  Sharing the information is an easy way to help restore the Church.  May God bless you in your efforts.



Cynthia Berenger said...

Dear Mrs. Haught,

I am always looking for good books to help my sons to learn their masculine roles in life. What would you consider to be the minimum appropriate age for _True Men as We Need Them_? Thank you.

Agape always,

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Cynthia,

I am so sorry that I missed your comment in May! I noticed it today for the first time.

I hesitate to recommend an age because there is so much difference in individual maturity. Perhaps you could try reading some of it aloud to the son you think might be ready and see how that goes. You might even read the table of contents and choose only a couple of chapters for him to read now.

I hope this helps. May God reward you for your efforts.