How can we tend the garden of our souls? Mary Margaret Funk turns to the wisdom of the desert fathers for the means of removing obstacles to spiritual growth, which include such weeds as thoughts of food, sex, possessions, anger, dejection, and pride, among other preoccupations. Redirecting thought can lead to a greater awareness of God and purity of prayer. This method to mental discipline may seem impossible at first, Funk admits, but those who succeed at it are rewarded with a liberating experience as they come to observe and control individual thought processes. Drawing on the writings of the fifth-century monk John Cassian, Funk explores using such tools as memory, imagination, and rational thinking—tools right out of early Christianity—to work on inner healing. She also explains how other positive tools, such as ceaseless prayer, manual labor, and isolation, may lead to uncluttering the mind and purifying the heart.
“These renunciations need not be dreaded. They are really the natural life cycle of birth to death. The requirements of each renunciation are what we call a vocation. We simply follow the call of grace no matter the obstacles. What is so welcoming about these teachings is that we are not alone.” (Page 17)
“the way to master thoughts is to notice them early, often, and consistently and to respond to them deliberately” (Pages 3–4)
“There are no isolated thoughts. The Greek word for ‘thought’ is logismos, which means a ‘train of thoughts.’” (Page 3)
“Thoughts are obstacles to that purity, that ability to see God. To ‘see God,’ we must still our thoughts” (Page 32)
“We need to ask for the grace to detach ourselves from thoughts and let God be God for us” (Page 12)