As a young girl, I was expected to do a fair amount of gardening. I wanted to rebel, but I enjoyed gardening. As I pulled dead leaves from shrubs, pruned and re-potted, my mind quieted until the only sound I perceived was the rustle of the wind. I discovered that cutting back limbs gave birth to new buds and that pulling weeds at their stems allowed other plants to breathe. As my fingers thrust into the earth, I could feel the pulse of creation, echoing back my existence as well. And as the sun nourished the plants I tended, it also sustained me.
Spending hours in the garden, I began to perceive a type of wisdom inherent in creation. Although not spelled out for me, I discovered truths in what unfolded daily. Creation and the creative process itself seemed to reflect aspects of the Divine and what I perceived were expressions of God’s love. If there could be such beauty, God must exist and if new growth emerged from decay, this must be God’s regenerative grace. However, somehow we have to see beyond the dead leaves and know enough to step into the garden. We also have to get our hands dirty.
To create meaning in our lives requires an active process. We scatter seeds, see where they land, and take care to nurture new life. When we can surrender to the conditions of our existence and yet face challenges with courage and heart, new growth emerges. Even if it is God who works the miracles of nature, without tending to weeds and nurturing seedlings, a garden won’t flourish. And without making an effort in personal transformation, our growth becomes stunted.
We have just passed the season of Easter and Passover – two religious holidays that in their own ways, speak of new life and liberation. And for those living on the East coast, the hideously long winter is finally shifting into spring. As we enter these upcoming months, what shoots emerge and what role do we play in their cultivation?
In my neighborhood, I often spot strange plants that look like aliens from another planet or vegetation straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. I know a fair amount about horticulture and yet some of the species make me do a double take.
When I see a flower shocking in color or strangeness, I’m filled with wonder, for just when we think life is humdrum and ordinary, it can take us by utter surprise. It can make us bow to its majesty and serendipity.
If a picture says a thousand words, the one above says it all.
“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…”
I don’t drive fast in parking lots because statistics reveal that more accidents happen while pulling out from a spot at the grocery store (or a few blocks from home) than anywhere else. It’s also where you might mow down a little old lady with her shopping cart or run over somebody’s toddler.
I do drive fast on the highway. My father drove race cars for a hobby so I have some of that gene. But I drive with my eyes wide open.
Today while driving slowly in the parking lot, someone honked his or her horn at me. It wasn’t just the gesture that irritated me. It was the palpable aggression coming at me that made me want to be aggressive back. “What the hell are you in such a hurry for?!” I wanted to scream. But I didn’t. I tried to feel sorry for the person instead because s/he is headed for a heart attack.
Speed. Our culture is addicted to it. Everyone is moving too fast.
We all do it to varying degrees.
Today I got a scolding from the chiropractor for my poor posture when working at the computer. While this isn’t directly related to the issue of speed, it does reflect a failure to take the time to do things right. To sit right. To get up and stretch. And to not work myself until the point of backache and exhaustion.
Today I was a little more in touch with the here and now because speed is over-rated. In fact, it’s killing us.
Remember. In the story of the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise wins.