tending to the garden

Gardens are a form of autobiography.  ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

As a gardener, I find that I would rather live and work outside than inside.  Even on chilly, dusky late autumn evenings, you will find me in my overalls, kneeling over my garden beds and tending to the last of the fall veggies and planting the onions and garlic to be harvested in the spring.  Truth be told, if I could work half time and garden/homestead half time, I would be quite content.  Gardening is not a hobby for me but a way of life—a life of spiritual “tending” and connecting with the Creator.  When I dig my naked hands deep into the soil, I become alive and I experience life.  What a feeling of pure awe and joy it is to hold it in the palms of your hands.

The year I turned 40, I was diagnosed with cancer.  The big “4-0” and cancer in one year—yes, God and I had a few discussions about timing.  In those months, however, I discovered the many gifts that are born from challenge, and one of those was the therapeutic value of gardening.

As I sat day to day recuperating in my house for three months, I longed to be outside kneeling down to connect with the earth.  Instead, I sat on the couch or lay in my bed so that my body could take the time it needed to heal.  And although I knew it was best for me, I resented having to spend the season of spring recovering from two surgeries.

I was determined, however, to create and to grow.  I had my daughter pull a set of shelves over by the window, and I planted a few seeds.  As days passed, miniscule green shoots sprouted from the soil.  I celebrated!  What a joy to experience hope and creation in the midst of my pain and struggle.

One day, as I stood watering my seedlings, I experienced an epiphany.  All of the care I provided those plants really symbolized the care my body needed.  The sleep, healthy food, rest, and water helped me “tend” to my body and spirit so that I could heal.  God had provided me with all the tools I needed for my “garden;” I needed to appreciate and use them so that I could grow.

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