Sanctuary: Natural Care

A few years ago, I was cleaning out some gardening tools and implements in our garage.  I found a planter still filled with root balls from plants that we had been growing in a previous home.  I had no idea how long it had sat there, but I took it out into the woods behind our house and into a shallow ravine emptied out the dirt and root masses presuming them all to be long dead.  Now, they would at least serve to replenish the earth in the woods.

Bee BalmI honestly did not think about that act again–for two years.  One early spring day, I was in the kitchen looking out a window into the woods, and I noticed this very distinct mound of greenery springing up in that same shallow ravine (even though the act of tossing out the contents of the planter were at the time gone from memory).  The green mound was so vibrant against the remaining brown of winter, that I walked out to see what it was.  There in the ravine was the visible root ball from the planter, covered in brown and decaying leaves.  Springing out of it were these strong, striking green fronds with beautiful, large slightly hairy leaves.  I gently scooped it up and took it to my garden in the front of the house.  Today, I know that what was growing there, protected there, nourished there very naturally in the woods as my castaway was a very stubborn little Bee Balm (Monarda).  Some four or five years later, we have this beautiful stand of Bee Balm that grows about four feet high and offers these beautiful leaves and flowers to us, our neighbors and the bees and butterflies which flock to them.

This series of events comes to  my mind every spring now when the Bee Balm begins to reappear (in the garden now!).  There is a natural sanctuary that happens in and through our lives, in and through and despite our ignorance, in and through our choices, those well intended, unintended, badly intended and accidental.  I don’t go through life depending on the Universe or Nature to constantly take care of my ignorance or my accidents, but I am encouraged that these kinds of things happen, that when all the conditions are right, a thing comes into being, to quote Buddhist wisdom.  The truth is that because of this “happy accident” of mine with the Bee Balm, I have learned to look more closely and act a little more slowly with plants and growing things.

Recently, we bought an orchid as a house gift for friends we were visiting.  In moving it Orchidfrom house to car, the blooms were accidentally chopped off.  We bought our friends another one, very quickly, and then brought the accidentally pruned orchid home.  We gave it a nice southern exposed spot, watered it carefully, and are now witnessing two new fronds of flower buds.

Sanctuary can be an event made up of a series of events that only emerge through time. It’s a part of the mystery of living that calls us awake.

Bob Patrick

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