My husband, Pat, and I love to garden, although there are times when it wouldn’t give that impression if you came to visit. Yet, while we have occasionally called in help, we both admit to the joy (and burden) of being connected with the soil. Pat, who grew up in San Francisco, comes from a long line of farmers in Ireland as do I, so it is in our blood. It grounds us and teaches us about life. I’d love to say that I have a regular routine established to keep things weeded and pruned but often must choose differently. One such time was last year, Winter/Spring of 2017. I was blessed to be able to journey with my mother during the last weeks of her life as I spent about two months in Ireland.
Meanwhile, back at “the ranch” the weeds were growing unchecked in the flowerbeds and the shrubs were out of control. (Pat’s job is mowing and edging the lawns and he leaves the weeding and pruning to me—we learned that system the hard way when he “pruned” our Orange tree a number of years ago and set it back about 10 years! I admit to holding back the tears at the time……)
Eventually, I was able to get out and begin the huge task of reclaiming my garden. It was too late in the year to fertilize the Roses, so I had to content myself with pruning them slightly and weeding. To my utter amazement about a month later beautiful, healthy blooms appeared on those Rose bushes!
What struck me at the time was that the weeds were robbing the flowers of the water and were also suffocating them as they grew unchecked. I remember the joy of liberating the roots, giving them air and space to grow. Anxiety can be like that if left unchecked it can grow in such a way as to blind us and rob us of our energy for life.
I remember being overwhelmed at my task when I began, I had to tell myself that I knew better and force myself to be present to the moment—weed by weed. “In all things give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) made its way into my heart as I made myself recognize and acknowledge my inner turmoil, take custody of my thoughts and slow down to hear the sound of the birds, to hold the soil in my hand which contained the life force to nourish both the flowers and the weeds; just like my heart. At the deepest level, it is a choice we have; to choose life. “No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” (Deuteronomy 30:14)
Yet, we have no ability to do this without the grace of God. And, that grace is available upon request, we have it on good authority: “And so I say to you, ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened, seek and you shall find.” (Matthew 7:7)
Is anxiety sapping your energy? Can you do something about it? Is it time to give the Spirit room to work in you?
Let us remember within us
The ancient clay,
Holding the memory of seasons,
The passion of the wind,
The fluency of water,
The warmth of fire,
The quiver-touch of the sun
And the shadowed sureness of the moon.
John O’Donahue, excerpts from In Praise of the Earth; To Bless the Space Between Us, p.86-87
Why are you so anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wildflowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.” Matthew 6:28-29
Reflection and photograph © 2018 Jean Bowler
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