There is more to life than increasing its speed – Mahatma Ghandi
A few years ago, my friend gave me a gift with an inscription on it that read, “At Peace in my Garden.” Hah! My daily routine is to get our kid off to school by eight, and then hit the garden running until the afternoon bell rings at 2 p.m. Snacks are woofed down and lunch is usually missed. After-school time was often spent working a walk in where I could pick up more rocks, sand or whatever I needed.
All appointments were scheduled and errands run after school lest I lost precious work time, and if I had to miss some, I’d catch myself cussing under my breath, even if it was going to be fun. Preparation time for meals were designed to be as quick as possible and housework was done in the evenings. Utilizing and orchestrating every spare moment of my time to work and keep up in my garden was the name of the game, and I had it down to a fine art.
In Des Kennedy’s delightful book, Crazy About Gardening, he writes, “Gardeners can suffer from a chronic inability to be in the present moment.” I am guilty as charged. I have barely stayed present over the years with our daughter while bouncing on the trampoline because I was getting a 360-degree birds-eye view of all the areas that needed tending to, and the strategic-planning session would kick into gear. A casual garden walk with her or a visitor always seemed to degenerate into weed picking along the way and two conversations going on simultaneously – the verbal and then the non-verbal task list grinding away.
Rather than relaxing and enjoying a cup of tea and the view out of my kitchen window, the inevitable “gotta-do-this, gotta-do-that” record would spin merrily away in this silly head of mine. Allowing myself to stray away from being present all these years has robbed me of not only time with people that are important in my life, but from just enjoying the surroundings I had created and the beautiful plants and flowers that grow in them.
Now, after 14 years of busily putting in all these gardens and rock walls, I had unwittingly created a monster that now requires constant taming, maintenance and time all year round, so flying madly about at high speeds was my daily modus operandi.
But now, I suddenly find myself a grounded gardener. It just so happened that I was not only growing plants, but also a large ‘bud’ at the end of my nose (maybe sunscreen and a hat are good advice after all) requiring three consecutive surgeries to repair it over the next two to three months.
The first surgery is preventing me from doing anything that still needs to be done around here because I’m under orders to not exert myself – and this is driving me crazy. But, at the same time, it has become an opportunity to at least attempt to be ‘at peace in my garden’ too. All I can do now is wander about and take stock of my handiwork, read some of those good gardening books and magazines, eat mindfully and hang out more with my family and friends.
It’s a forced time for me to stop and smell the roses, but it took a medical situation to do it.
In Donna Sinclair’s book titled, The Spirituality of Gardening, she prints a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson who says, “Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting – a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.”
So stop and be still once in awhile to enjoy your gardens and listen to the bird song from the trees.
Our gardens demand a lot of our time for sure, but they are also a joy, and are meant to be enjoyed – by you.