In my flower garden, I encounter all of life on a daily basis. I am also continually given opportunities to practice classic spiritual principles: Be in present-moment awareness. Accept what is. Let go of all attachments to a particular outcome. Each one is perfectly applicable to both gardening and living. Nature doesn’t play by human rules or expectations. Nature just is. Entering the natural world that surrounds us brings us home to a part of ourselves that often gets lost in the clock-centered busyness of daily life.
When I walk through my back door in the early morning stillness, I am met with a presence that I would call sacred. Neighbors still asleep, traffic sounds distant and minimal. I am alone with the beauty of the green and growing Earth, my eyes clear and open to all that is before me: nature in living color and infinite variety. Immediately I am completely engaged and present. Thinking has faded to the background, and I am just being. When I look at each blooming lily or rose, there is no separation. The flowers and I are one in the spirit of life that flows through us. Standing beneath a towering maple tree, I am drawn into the silence that holds both of us in timeless being. I AM. The tree IS. We are both part of a consciousness that links every living thing on Earth and in the cosmos. Each morning becomes a meditation in slow motion that centers me in the now and eases me into my day.
The actual work of gardening—seeding, planting, weeding, pruning—is another practice that both engages me and teaches me acceptance of all that is. The past winter’s cold has killed my butterfly bush as well as several other perennials. My native honeysuckle, covered with bright red blossoms, has aphids that are eating the new buds. Finding replacement plants and removing insects and dead leaves are all part of gardening. Within that process of letting go of the old and welcoming the new, I surrender to the flow of life, with both sadness and celebration. The garden teaches me to hold it all in my heart without judgment or distress. Every day is a new opportunity to embrace each event in my life and in my garden. When I have sudden unexpected expenses or a painful migraine headache, I am reminded that living includes these challenges as well as the joys of laughing with friends, listening to music, or watching a glorious red sunset after a dramatic thunderstorm. To be human is to encounter all parts of the experiential spectrum.
Gardening immerses me in nature, but it also aligns me with divine presence. My soul is with me in the garden. In truth, my soul is with me everywhere. And it is being in presence within my garden that teaches me this. There is nowhere and nothing that is not filled with spirit, that is not God experiencing life on Earth in a multitude of forms and expressions, including human. We are so much more than we think we are, and it is only in not thinking but just being present that we experience that expansive awareness. Heaven is here on Earth, and when we realize that, we see paradise everywhere we go.
“We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.”—Joni Mitchell