Lenten reflection: bringing the gardens to light

In spite of a busy weekend, I managed to put aside a couple of hours on the warm Saturday afternoon and started cleaning out flower beds.  As I surveyed my scratched up arms and legs this morning, this blog post came to mind from last year.  As I read it, I was also struck by the cycle of life and how, even though a year has passed, I am still relying on the Universe’s alignment of the weather and my (nondriving) teenager’s  schedule!  enjoy~cameron

Saturday, I spent my first Spring afternoon doing nothing but tending to the gardens.  After months of working inside the house on many projects that needed my attention, the weather and my (nondriving) teenage daughter’s schedule aligned so that I had 4 hours free to do as I pleased.

Yes!

If you know anything about gardening, you understand that the first part of the season is less not about planting and harvesting and more about clearing and cleaning.  Beds need to be uncovered from piles of leaves, stray vines must be trimmed back, and dead plants are clipped to make room for new growth.

new hydrangea

By dinner time on Saturday, my body was full of scrapes and scratches and tuckered out.

That evening,however, I enjoyed sitting up on my front porch and surveying all that had been accomplished by my hand.  What a delight~I could feel it way down into the depths of my spirit.

And Sunday morning, I could feel it way down into the depths of my body.  Argh~

At the spiritual retreat last weekend, I was reminded that our souls are like gardens.  We tend to them, we water them, and we expectantly wait for Spring sun to shine down and bring Light into the world.

And yet, gardens also require work.  Hard work, sometimes.  Whether we are wrestling with the thorny wild rose or hoeing in the compost, there are tasks that we’d rather not do–they’re not fun, they leave us tired, and they seemingly don’t contribute to the beauty of the garden.

When we stand back, however, and look at the bigger picture of the full day’s work, we can regain perspective.  We may be spent and have a few tender scratches here and there, but our work is not in vain.  It uncovers new growth and exposes it to light so that the garden is prepared for a new season.

My prayer for us as we near the Lenten Holy Week is that our reflections on our spiritual “hard work” will open our spirits up to opportunities for growth and new life.

a milestone to celebrate

Last year, I wrote this post on this date and reread it this morning as a reminder for my soul.  Five years post surgery in the world of cancer or illness is something to be celebrated with much joy.  I am also embracing this milestone with much reverence and gratitude as I have known many who have not made it to five or who continue to struggle with disease.  ~cameron

This date holds a special anniversary for me–it is the day four-years-ago that I had surgery which unexpectedly also removed cancer from my body–a miracle of sorts.  In the last few years, I intentionally chose to walk (and even skip!) down some new paths on my journey, and here are a few things I’ve learned.

1.  It is never to late or too early to live out your dreams and passions.  This little farm has been my inspiration for this life lesson, and I do not regret the day I said, “To heck with the grass, I’m going all garden!”

2.  You are never too old or too young to ask for help.  It is amazing how free you feel when you surrender to the fact that you can’t do it all.  And hey, why would you want to?  It doesn’t leave you with any time to play, garden, or laugh.

3.  Being outside everyday is critical to our wellbeing.  There is nothing more healing than feeling warm sun or cool breeze on your skin or standing still long enough to observe a ladybug travel across a leaf.  Nothing makes me feel the magic of childhood wonder than experiencing a sprouted seed or woven nest.

4.  Important life lessons come from trying new things.  Forget the fear of failure and making mistakes.  Goodness, how boring would life be if we mastered everything around us.  Stretch yourself, think outside the box.  (And remember, you don’t have to tell anyone about it so what’s the harm?!)

5.  Live simply.  I work on this one every day.  It’s not a goal to be attained but a way of life I want to embody.

6.  Take time to “just be.”  Most of you know, this is my mantra.  There is nothing “slack” about taking care of yourself or taking a life “time out.”  In fact, it is probably one of the hardest things you may accomplish each day.  Mindfulness and contemplation create peaceful souls.

7.  Grace is available to each of us.  We all live in God’s garden, and God tends to each of us as needed.  It is more than having a second chance or a do-over; it is about a way of life, knowing that we are being nurtured to be the best we can be.

And so today, I will celebrate life.  I will plant seeds in the ground.  I will sing loudly to my favorite music (to my teen’s dismay).  I will run with my dogs, kiss my child on the forehead, put my laugh lines to good use, and create something just for me.  I will love and be loved.  And I will give thanks and say a prayer for the journey that brought me to this day.

holding a little piece of creation in your hands

This weekend, I will begin some indoor starts for spring and summer veggies and herbs.  It is quite possibly one of my favorite activities on this little farm, for it is humbling to hold a little piece creation in your hands and nurture the journey known as “life.”

This year, my order from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange arrived on Christmas Eve.  This gardening girl couldn’t ask for a better gift!  I love everything about these little goodies–their artistic packages, their earthy smell, their distinctive shapes and sizes.  Ask my daughter–when the seeds arrive at our home, I’m like a kid on Halloween.

Typically, I don’t celebrate the New Year by staying up until midnight or hanging out with friends.  You can usually find me on my couch with my gardening journal deciding what will be planted first and how I’m going to maximize the space in my little indoor greenhouse.  It has become a symbolic celebration of sorts, honoring my stepping into another year and a new season of growth.

By mid-January, I find that I am beside myself with excitement.  I cannot wait any longer, and I pick a weekend to begin the first starts.  Preparation is a bit of a ritual for me, one that is sacred and involves intention and mindfulness.  In its own way, starting the seeds is a prayer ritual just like canning.  It is not something to be rushed or multitasked.  It is an opportunity for me to celebrate the great Gardener and Creator and the invitation I’ve received to be involved in creation care.

seed starts supplies

As I sit here this morning writing this meditation, I find my spirit smiling and my heart peaceful.  What a delight and honor it is to engage in such a simple act but one that resonates so deeply in my soul.

 

 

 

rainy days got you down? ideas for gardeners on a rainy day

seed startsGod made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.  ~Author Unknown

It’s a cool, rainy  day here–the kind of weather that makes me want to lie on the couch and doze on and off, dreaming of warm, sunny days and veggies growing on the vine.  Sadly, however, the inside of my house beckons me.  She’s a bit jealous that I’ve been spending so much time outside recently.  It’s hard to justify indoor chores when I could be doing a number of outside tasks that fill my spirit.

So , what does a farmer or gardener do on a rainy day?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Get outside anyway:  Wet ground = Let’s transplant!!  All those great plants that are ready to split (lillies, hostas, iris, ajuga) will survive much better if moved to damp soil in weather that won’t dry them out.  You’ll spend less time having to care for them if you transplant sooner rather than later.
  • Plan your gardens.  Look out the window and think about where seeds might go or where you’ll put the new yard art your going to make from a Pinterest post.  Get out some paper and markers or colored pencils.  Enjoy it, be creative!
  • Speaking of Pinterest, get on there and see if you can find some great new ideas–vertical trellises, pallet gardens, yard sculptures.  Who knows what you can find to do with all those things you’ve been upcycling.
  • Plant some seeds.  It was a great day here to plant sugar snap seeds–wet ground will help them soften up so they can sprout more easily.
  • Start some seeds indoors.  Get going on those more tender plants that require indoor growth.  If you’ve already started seeds, check for dampness and size.  Make sure your seedlings aren’t overcrowding each other.
  • Try a little homesteading project.  I’m ran outside this morning and pulled up the mint taking over my kale.  Voila!  Time to start drying the herb for winter mint tea.
  • Pull out the cookbooks.  Get excited about harvesting all those great fruits and veggies by looking up some new
    recipes and putting sticky tabs on the ones you want to try.  They might even encourage you to grow something you’ve never attempted before.cookbooks
  • Pick out a new gardening/farming/homesteading skill and research it.  It is never too late, and you are never to old to learn something new.

So, next time you feel like the preteen who walks around saying “I’m bored!  There’s nothing to do,”  consider this list or challenge yourself to add a few other ideas.  And if you’re still bored?  There’s laundry to wash, floors to mop, and dishes to dry. . . . .  uh, huh, that’s what I thought.