Back to the Garden

I commenced this blog in January of this year. My goal, among others, was to publish at least once a week. You may have noticed that this has fallen off.

It makes me ponder on the seasons – the cyclical nature of winter/spring/summer/fall, and our own personal cycles of rest and activity, growth and change, dying and birthing.

We have just marked the beginning of Summer, in accordance with the motion of the spheres. For me, and perhaps for many others, this recent time has been about the outside world, specifically gardening.

Planting, transplanting, seeding, weeding, watering and encouraging. And, the noticing. Taking my morning coffee outside to see what transpired over night. It was thus when I was a young gardener (well, minus the coffee). I couldn’t wait to inspect everything before I went off to the bus.

What’s happening with the iris….is that a bud?

Are there new morning glory flowers, to replace the faded ones of yesterday?

How tall are the sunflowers now?

For me, gardening is full of expectation and reward….if things take their course, new life will unfold. Bees will be fed. Butterflies will visit. Vases will be full of flowers. The basket will brim with tomatoes. Beauty will abound.

My winter and spring were full of learning and thinking. And, in the last 5 months, two big learning endeavors came to a close. One was a 4-year commitment, the other, 20 months. A continuous period of reflection and application has now…Seriously. Slowed. Down.

I sometimes have trouble adjusting when all the organized activity ceases. I like to be busy. I like structure. My brain likes to be occupied.

And now I find myself occupied with gardening, a very different kind of activity…something much more physical than cerebral. More about external beauty and less about ideas. More about tending the growing things, and less about attending to my mental synapses. More about nurturing than learning.

In some ways, it’s service: devoting time and energy to the garden to ensure that it has what it needs. It’s what I imagine parenting to be, in the best sense. Caring, watching, helping, and hoping. The letting-go when there’s no more to be done. The self-forgiving when I am unable to prevent things from going awry. I can’t keep ALL the tomato hornworms at bay.

Service, in the right amounts, is restorative. It’s also right-sizing; it provides perspective. And, being in service to Life and Beauty feels like a vocation; a spirit-filled activity. Gardening feels like a container into which I pour my love. Not unlike very special relationships.

And, the garden can feel like a thin place, where the veil between our reality, and the one we cannot see, seems quite transparent indeed.  It is no wonder, to me at least, that so many creation myths have earth and humanity intertwined.

Gardening helps reinforce the interdependence and mutual creature-hood of us and the plants. I will eat what I have helped to grow, which will keep me healthy and alive to do the same again next year. The food becomes part of who I am, which I will bring to the next planting season, to pour into the soil with the seeds and the water.

And the love.

And the gratitude.

And the hope of more to come.

About Soul Intention

"Spirituality is, ultimately, about what we do with...desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality." from The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser. Paraphrasing what Gerald May has said, in his book Will and Spirit, spirituality is our experience and interpretation of our relationship with the Sacred. The intent of this blog is to explore for myself, and to invite others to explore with me, just what is it we do with our desire? What is our spirituality? Mine has been shaped by many my formative years, by the Roman Catholic church. In the last decade, by the 12 steps. Most recently, by the Episcopal Church. And, always, always, by the sense that Nature helped to reveal the Great Mystery, of which we are all a part. So, my spirituality includes concrete practices, like the Steps, as well as probing more philosophical matters. I was certified, in January 2011, as a Spiritual Director by the Haden Institute. During those 21 months of study, which included a broad range of topics from Celtic Spirituality, to the Christian Mystics, to Jungian Depth psychology, I was given the space and time to ponder my own spiritual journey, hear about others' paths, and benefit from participation in an intentional community. My hope is that this blog can engender a similar conversation. Peace, Paul
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2 Responses to Back to the Garden

  1. Judy Kamilhor says:

    Paul, This is beautiful. Thank you for your spiritual perspective. Japanese Haiku masters observed nature in a very similar way.

  2. Judy, I so appreciate your readership and your comments. Thank you, Paul

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