Much has been written about gardens in the metaphorical sense of how they embody hope and nurturing of those around us. Gardens also are symbolic of our choice to impart order in our lives, to create our lives, or at least this part of it, as we see fit. We decide what to plant, where to plant it, and how to plant it. As I began to put in my garden this year, I had the opportunity to view it from a different perspective. My grandsons wanted to help, so they decided what we would plant. It started off with flowers for their mother and grandmother and I was lucky enough to persuade them to plant them in flower boxes. Then they discovered the vegetable seed rack at the hardware store. Now we are growing beans, corn, cantaloupes, watermelons, rosemary, tomatoes, and pumpkins. Basil, thyme, and sage are in planters. I planted blueberry and blackberry bushes and some grapes for them as well. Cucumbers, carrots, peas, aren't yet planted and I still have to plant hot peppers.
That is a lot to plant in a very small space on a very steep hillside. I thought it would be easiest to start at the top and plant beans and corn. I have never planted either and I remain hopeful that they will take root. My grandsons played in the yard while I terraced the hillside. As I worked I uncovered an exceptional amount of stone and naturally was frustrated. As I moved the stones to the side and had my one grandson help me, I thought about how lucky I was at that moment. I had some of my grandsons with me, they were helping and cheerful about helping to move stones; I realized that the stones were just another gift! The stones gave me an experience to share with my boys and also gave me support for the terracing of the hill. We moved down the hillside and prepared the least steep spot of ground for the watermelon, cantaloupes, and the pumpkins. As we planted the seeds together, I thought about how excited they would be when they see the seeds sprout, when they bloom and finally produce vegetables and fruits. I was excited that this was something we had done together.
However, there is something more about the garden that I found important. The garden with all its wonder, is about giving and receiving. We certainly gave some effort and some sweat as we prepared the garden. The earth gave us soil and stones to use and experiences to share with my grandsons. They received that experience and the earth received the seeds and the continuation of new life. It is certainly an example of the more we give, the more we receive. The change taking place on the hillside, while not yet complete, is exceptional already. It is coming to life with new growth on the plants!
We plant seeds knowing that they won't grow and produce unless they are tended to, cared for, and nurtured. And that of course takes effort and not the least important, takes time. In some cases, I see that the time to harvest is months. Yet, I find myself already, going to the garden every morning, talking to the plants, checking them to see how they are doing and looking for the first sprouts of life.
The garden begins with preparing the ground and planting the seeds. We prepare the ground to ensure that the seeds have the best environment to take root, grow and prosper. The garden grows all day and night, every day and night. Much of this growth takes place unseen, underground where the roots are growing and becoming stronger. As these roots grow stronger, so does the plant grow stronger and more fruitful.
It is the same for us when we decide to change ourselves. We need to prepare ourselves, tend to ourselves, nurture ourselves, and care for ourselves. Like the garden, these things take time and most of the growth takes place unseen. We choose the direction in which we want to grow. Plants turn their leaves toward the sun and the things that we decide to do that are good for us are like plants turning themselves toward the sun. Each day, each moment, we can do something that benefits ourselves, our growth, and achieving our goals. Sometimes we aren't entirely successful, but perfection is not the goal and never should be the goal. The goal should be to continue on the path, to continue to improve, to have faith and trust in the process. Like the plants in my garden, I can't expect my tomatoes to produce zucchini, neither should we expect to become someone else. Let's just grow to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Much of the growth, our own growth, is taking place where we can't see it, then, at the right time, we will bloom and produce fruit like the plants in our garden.