Saturday, January 15, 2011

The garden.... the great writ small and the small elevated to the divine

Gardening as spiritual practice, intellectual paradigm, & a love story

Raspberry Bee Balm or Monarda

I was explaining something to my husband, something charged and important, emotional. The reason for the tears or intensity are not relevant or even memorable, but typically this scenario is unlikely to go well -- me leaky and sore and him trying to help. But, on this day I used my garden as a metaphor to illustrate my point(s) and how I felt.   Into a grand garden-based simile went the mishmash of partially processed feelings, deep connecting ideas, and whim and I began to explain.  Using the garden and the gardener as metaphor -- spinning from concept to common practicality.

Admittedly I am prone to see (invent) large meaning from simple things.  A quality that when viewed generously is creative and exciting but turned on its tail can be exhausting (& tedious).   But, gardens are metaphors that do not run out. It is all there, the drama, the truth, the process.  The epiphany of the quotidian

The great writ small and the small elevated to the divine.
the earth and the sky - grounded and soaring - heart and intellect
A place where all of me can come and find a voice, an ally, or an example.

Everything I have learned from Buddhism, by being a Quaker, as a parent, from studying physics and the sciences, about love and how life works, is in evidence in my garden. If I want to be reminded of the Central Truth or any of the 1000 smaller neighboring truths, they are all on show and available in my garden. On this particular day using Great-Mother images of necessary-but-difficult pruning, the care of little shoots, the need for rocks as rest and edges as frames I was rewarded, my husband smiled-- little rootlets connect.

A couple of cattails at sunset

This poem came to me from The writers almanac is called "the gardener" by Ken Weisner and it speaks to some of these elements
The Gardner
by Ken Weisner
For Kit

You get down on your knees in the dark earth—alone
for hours in hot sun, yanking weed  roots, staking trellises,
burning your shoulders, swatting gnats; you strain your muscled
midwestern neck and back, callous your pianist's hands.

You cut roses back so they won't fruit, rip out and replace
spent annuals. You fill your garden dense with roots and vines.
And when a humble sprout climbs like a worm up out of death,
you are there to bless it, in your green patch, all spring and summer long,

hose like a scepter, a reliquary vessel; you hum
through the dreamy wilderness—no one to judge, absolve,
or be absolved—purified by labor, confessed by its whisperings, connected
to its innocence. So when you heft a woody, brushy tangle, or stumble

inside grimy, spent by earth, I see all the sacraments in place—
and the redeemed world never smelled so sweet. 

"The Gardener" by Ken Weisner, from Anything on Earth. © Hummingbird Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission,mhln,dv,kvqx,d4h0,2m6n,mf9q


Julie Hansen said...

I agree with your comments about the garden, but I actually love thinking about what is going on in my garden under the snow. They are rejuvenating and growing and preparing for their time in the sun and the air. I envision it as a productive time for them. Of course, I'm more productive in the winter so I suppose that I am "projecting" as they say in therapy circles. :)

Paul Woods said...

Thanks, very interesting and thoughtful.  Produced the desired effect of meditation and musing.
You're a great writer Sharon.  I love language and you use it so beautifully without resorting to pedanticism.
I was thinking about great sayings.  I believe....and it may be my brain injuries telling me this, and it was never said....that it might have been Gandhi who said (approximately at least)
"the measure of a society lies in the quality of its mercy."  Do you know?  It not, I claim it!
I'll be like Robert Schumann.  Apparently late in life (not clear if it was syphilis, or his distress over his wife Clara's open affair with Johannes Brahms) would re-write pieces he'd previously wrote, or someone else wrote, and claim it as new.  He also got up one day and ran down the streets, eventually throwing himself off a bridge in to the Danube.  That can't happen.  The rivers are all well frozen here.

Jenny Hyslop said...

Hi Sharon,
Jenny Hyslop commented on your link.
Jenny wrote: "Ah, me too. Was fantasizing about ground cover today...that's January for you. PS for some reason I can't post directly at the blog from my phone..."

Steve Healey said...

I read the garden piece Sharon.

You have a unique way with crafting your words and phrases which I like very much.

Take Care,


Nene Riley said...

This quote from May Sarton came to mind.
"Journal of Solitude"

"Here I am at fifty-eight and in the past year I have only begun to understand what loving is ... forced to my knees again and again like a gardner planting bulbs or weeding, so that I may once more bring a relationship to flower, keep it truly alive.