We were enclosed,
O eternal God,
within the garden of your breast.
You drew us out of your holy mind
like a flower
petaled with our soul's three powers,
and into each power
you put the whole plant,
so that they might bear fruit in your garden,
might come back to you
with the fruit you gave them.
And you would come back to the soul,
to fill er with your blessedness.
There the soul dwells -
like the fish in the sea
and the sea in the fish.
By Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), born the twenty-fourth child out of twenty five, Catherine was the daughter of a cloth dyer in Siena. She devoted her life to God and became a novice in 1363 and a Dominican nun four years later. Catherine cared all her life for the poor and the ill, as a director of nuns and as a spiritual advisor to many people. She was a social activist, involved in the religious politics of her day (schism in the Roman Church, the Pope moving to Avignon). Translated by Suzanne Noffke, O.P. printed in Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield: HarperPerinnial, 1994.