The Garden: The Mess

Gardening is messy, any way you slice it.  We do love, however, the archetypal image of The Garden.  The Garden of Paradise.  The Secret Garden.  The Hanging Gardens.  The Garden of Eden. The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The reality is mostly about planning, muscle, work and sweat.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love gardening and have been in the garden since I was a child.  Gardens in my life have taken different shapes over the years.  As a child, it was a giant, half-acre garden that my grandparents, parents and aunt and uncle tended, producing enough vegetables for our three households and much more to share with neighbors. As a college student, my garden was a single potted plant that somehow transformed the cinder block dorm room that I lived in into something almost peaceful.  Early in our marriage, living in a 3 room house as an associate ministry, our garden consisted of a few potted plants out on the front stoop.  Since then, it has been, in various homes and plots, more like an English garden with a mix of herbs, flowers, vegetables, trees and wildflowers all growing together in some sort-of-tended way.

Regardless of the shape of the garden, gardening is messy.  There is dirt, and turning of soil, manure and weeds, blisters, cuts, stabs, stings, poisonous rashes, critters who are staking their claims to the plot, too, and the aforementioned sweat.

There is also the almost unnameable encounter.  In The Garden, I always come into contact with some Deep Center that is both mine and larger than me.  Over the years, contact with the Deep Center in the garden has healed emotional wounds, calmed anxiety, given me direction, healed my body and taught me to tune in to Silence.  I go to the garden, it would seem, to sow, grow and cultivate things, but what I find there is a healing and saving of me that I find nowhere else.

Today, find your garden, or some garden, and go be there for a while.  Touch the earth. Smell her aroma.  Bask in the healing.  Reach the sky.

Bob Patrick

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