Gardening

As humans we have a strong tradition of the garden being a metaphor for the soul. A lovely thing to do is to ask in a meditation to have an image of what our inner garden looks like. Some of us are very good at this kind of picturing. Others have difficulty, and yet they can smell, or sense or intuit what that garden is like.

Once we have an image or sensory perception of our inner garden, we can come to know what it is asking of us instead of the other way around. Augustine said that the soul thinks in images, and if this is true we can do some beautiful spiritual gardening by tuning in and noticing the condition of our inner gardens. Have we been in the shade i.e. hidden too long? Have we not taken time to nourish our spirits? Have we lacked the self-discipline to weed out of our lives what no longer serves us?

This kind of inquiry on an ongoing basis is a beautiful endeavor. Gardening for our souls sake is a sacred task.

Phrases posted on Facebook, May 2016

I used to be an enthusiastic gardener loving to dig in the soil, but now my body complains. It doesn’t like squatting, but gardening is still a deep pull so why not make it the subject for May? Gardening is a wonderful metaphor for cultivating awareness. Guess there will be some mental squats coming up!
Fundamental to gardening is soil, right? Is it too acidic, too stony, too dry? Our inner soil can have any one of these attributes. To bring it into balance is an ongoing task. I like to ask, “How’s my grounding today?” and then try to do whatever we can to bring it into better balance.
After a long winter, soil gets compacted and needs to be turned to let more air and moisture circulate. The same is true if we want to grow anything in our lives. We need time for self-examination to turn ourselves around to where more light can enter and where living water can refresh us.
Without earth there would be no gardens. Without Mother Earth there would be no life. Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day let’s thank the ground we stand on and honor the great Mother who give us all life.
Once the ground is tilled and restored into balance (an ongoing inner process we will always be doing to some extent) it’s time to decide what to plant. That depends on sun and shade, doesn’t it? We might want to plant something really sunny in our lives when the current circumstance just won’t bear it. Or we can’t realize we can have something new and sunny because our habit is to not believe we deserve such goodness. It’s not that sun is better than shade or vice versa, it’s that we have to take into account what is true about our condition and for best results plant accordingly.
Life has given us different gifts that are unique to us. These gifts are like potent seeds. We need to plant them carefully and give them a chance to live. I like to ask “What is the most important thing that wants to live in me now?” and then I try to plant that into my current situation. It’s not always easy to hear the answer. Sometimes it is just a vague, general direction, still that is a beginning and needs to be honored.
To focus with singleness of heart on what we want to nurture into life is not easy. Listening deeply to our longings will give us a general notion even though it may seem vague. It may be things like these that we are after: to help others, to love, to bring peace, to make a difference in some area of interest, to be kind, to understand clearly etc. Professions are built on such longings. This is not a little matter. Spirit longs within us and we are its hands and feet.
One of the central things about gardening is waiting. “Germination” it says on the seed packets . . . “14 days”. When we plant our seed longings into the soil of our lives there is no printed germination time is there? We have to wait. For me to wait means to serve i.e. to become the wait staff. It also means to be patient for the necessary circumstances to out-picture into daily life.
One day that little tell tale green of germination emerges into daylight. Something has begun at last!! But we still have to wait, don’t we? That is to attend, care and be patient all over again for the new to gain strength.
Once we are able to see that our seed longings have germinated and gained strength it is our job to remove the weeds, i.e. the impediments and habits that can prevent growth. On behalf of our dreams I think we are asked to be about discernment, to know what is helpful and what is not and to act on it.
In gardening as in life it is good to know when to stop striving and simply trust thriving. Once a seedling or something new in our lives has gained a foothold we need to step aside and let it grow without interference. The new has wisdom within it often better than what we think we know.
We live in an instant gratification culture. Things have to happen right away and we have lost an appreciation for the grace of cultivation. Allowing time to be our friend is a big part of gardening whether outdoors in the soil or in our deep inner being. Cultivation has more than agricultural meanings. It can be learning, training, preparation and refinement. All require a friendship with time.
When plants become robust and before they fruit I think they are like teenagers that need a lot of nourishment. We can’t expect inner growth without consistent feeding either. Perhaps that means more times of silence or learning something new or finding a practice that enriches our souls. To know when and how to nourish ourselves is crucial.
In the garden we can see ripening as the season of growth continues. Every plant (with the right conditions) moves towards blooming and fruiting. Spiritually speaking this is true for all of us also. Ripening and embodying that which we truly are is in our blue print. We need to align the conditions of our lives in such a way that the grace of blooming and fruiting has a chance to happen.
When the garden is in full fruiting it is sharing time. To pass on whatever of goodness we have been graced to grow in our personal lives seems to be a law of nature–clear and simple, ultimately joyous.
It’s the end of the month. The end of gardening is letting go, isn’t it? Things are put to bed, the soil turned. In our lives things come to an end. Another season of growth will come, but first the letting go.