In The Garden

Recently a friend of mine posted about her experience in the garden and the lessons she has learned as a newbie gardener.  ( She got me thinking.   I have been a gardener all my adult life.  My father was my mentor in this aspect.  He was an organic gardener in the early 70s before this was a popular thing to do.  He read books on organic gardening and consulted the Farmer’s Almanac and gradually took over most of the backyard in our house in Ohio.  Many times I would see him in his hat and long sleeve shirt (avoiding the sun) pruning vegetables and weeding the garden.

When I had a home of my own, he helped me put in raised beds and lay out a good plan for the plants.  He knew that certain plants grew well together and others inhibited their growth.  He also knew how many rows of corn to plant as a minimum for cross pollination and nifty little tidbits about when to plant according to the phase of the moon. He would work in the garden until late at night, tenderly loving the plants and the soil.

He also taught me many life lessons some of which I believe come from his years in the garden.

First of all, the companions we chose in life are important.  Some will help us grow through nurturing the soil right next to us, while others will rob us of light and nutrients if we stay with them too long. Discerning between the two comes from years of experience and being alert to the signs that are  along the journey.  If someone demands to take over our life, they probably are not a good companion for us.  If they insist we always do it their way or that there is only one  answer to all of life’s problems,  we should ask ourselves if they are the right ones to companion us. If we are always having to tend to their emotions and needs at the sacrifice of our own, it would be best to learn to put a boundary between the two of us.

Second, similar to the plants that  take root during the dark of the moon, much growth can happen in the dark experiences of life .  During this fallow time when nothing appears to be happening, a transformation can be gestating.  Ideas can take shape that will lead to establishing deep roots.  These roots may be the anchor that keeps us stable through the storms of life or a sudden frost that hits unexpectedly.  Through times of light and happiness, it is good to reach outward to share with others the lessons we have learned.   The seeds that are gained in the dark will become obvious as we bloom into an new being.

Third, preparation is a must before anyone can be expected to grow.  Throwing seeds into untilled soil rarely results in any fruit.  The same is true in life.  We must constant work with the soil in which we have been planted, watering, weeding, thinning, and fertilizing if we expect to continue to produce fruit.  This preparation can come from reading helpful books, seeking the advise of a good counselor or spiritual director, and attending retreats and conferences that help us to learn new ideas.

Fourth, along with this last requirement, comes that of patience.  Much of what is happening is unseen until later in life. As one matures in life and in gardening, the wisdom in being patient becomes more obvious.  Most things done too quickly don’t have the lasting power of those things in which one lets go of the need for quick results and instead learns to patiently tend the soil.

And lastly, there is much good that can come out of keeping our life as organic as possible.  Adding natural things to our lives in simplified ways can help us grow in healthy, strong manner.  Just as plants need to be thinned to produce the best harvest, keeping enough room in our lives for wonder and moments of rest helps us to grow to our fullest potential.  While we might be tempted to add more and more to our busy life, these activities may end up stifling our growth rather than adding to it.  When we compost the unnecessary ingredients in our life,  they can added to the nutrients for our soil.

What lessons have you learned from the garden?  I invite you to join in a conversation that will shares your insights.


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