What the Garden Teaches me

There’s so much to do during the summer. There are words to contemplate and tweak, but also plenty to keep me busy in the garden. When sitting becomes too much, I’m so grateful for the mini oasis I’ve been working with. The garden is an excellent teacher if you pay attention.

A basket full of lavender, roses, sage, lemon verbena, lemon balm, and mint. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

Today I harvested more herbs. I don’t have a huge garden, so I only took a little here and there. I must leave plenty for the pollinators and the plant itself. Most of these will become herbal tisanes or culinary seasoning that will comfort me through the winter.

Sage air drying in a net. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020

I find a lot of parallels and lessons between gardening, writing, and my spirituality. They all interconnect in my being like a tapestry. My first gardens were tiny. My father helped to build them and did much of the maintenance. The same can be said of my books. When I was a mini writer of five, my mother recorded each word while I drew the pictures. As I grew, teachers and other mentors would support me in both cases. Each year, I discover more about these passions of mine. I grow in independence, and yet also interconnection to others who offer inspiration and expertise. That includes spirit allies. It’s a never-ending process, and I’ve found it’s more collaborative than solitary.

Some years, the garden is not as productive. Or perhaps one plant is not as fruitful as desired. Some may disagree with my choices in plants or placement. I can say the same of writing. Some stories never take root or blossom. Sometimes it takes years for an idea to bear fruit. Your work will not impress everyone, yet you mustn’t get so discouraged that you give up. You reflect, you learn, and you dig a new garden bed (or revise one). You go back to the seedling drabbles and nurture them. You rebuild shrines. You rewrite prayers and whole novels.

My spiritual path has been the same. There will always be periods more fecund than others. The plant world teaches us that it is perfectly acceptable, even healthy, to go through dormant intervals. If that is you right now, it’s okay. Gather what herbs you can for later.

And just like the plantain that grow through the tiniest cracks, never give up.

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