My Garden as Mirror
Where flowers bloom, so does hope. Eleanor Roosevelt
My garden holds deep meaning for me, for it has evolved as I have evolved. In many ways we have been co-creators. My garden nurtures and heals me as I nurture and feed it. So it seems appropriate to honor my garden and share its beauty as another gift from nature.
When I moved to my home with my husband in 1978, the garden was already mature. It was filled with rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, peonies and many fruit trees. In the first fifteen years of my life in this home, the garden took care of itself. My ex-husband and I were both workaholics, and the last thing we wanted to do with our limited time was weed a garden. What we didn’t hire to be done, didn’t get done.
The house had a large attached greenhouse, which was indicative of my lack of focus on gardening. It was a beautiful structure that was slowly falling apart with shattered and cracked glass falling through a disintegrating wood frame. I was too busy to care for or use the greenhouse and so it languished as the garden languished. Much as my soul languished in these years.
After my divorce, I began to attend to the exiled parts of me. Two years later, I began attending to the exiled parts of my garden. The first year I planted a rose garden. The next, I got into bulb gardening and began introducing daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and dahlias. Over the next few years I began to look forward to the colors spring would bring. Finally I refurbished the greenhouse with all new glass and paint. The garden sparkled. Was it the greenhouse? Was it the bulb garden that continually expanded? Or was I seeing through a different lens at the new palette I’d created? Probably a little of each. The garden’s blossoming reflected the blossoming of my inner world.
When I stopped everything and embarked on my spiritual journey, my garden became my sanctuary. It became another metaphor for my life. Although gardens have been used as life’s metaphor for centuries, the cycles of my journey have matched the seasons of my garden. I have been nurtured and held by the life-and-death cycles of my garden. As new buds emerge, and flowers bloom, I know new stories are emerging within me. I watch the colorful, fragrant flowers complete their cycles and die, and I honor the births and deaths within myself, knowing each death makes room for the new.
Not long after I ended my crazy-making work pace, my fruit trees died. Was it old age or lack of care? I was dying also, but did not know it at the time. My soul was shriveling. I now know I couldn’t live in the vast spiritual wasteland anymore. Similar to my apple and pear trees, I could no longer survive without some deep nurturing care for my soul. Today there are new fruit trees being nurtured by a fresh and alive soul. We have been partners and co-creators—my garden and me.
My garden returned me to my “Earth Mother” soul. I had lost her somewhere back in my twenties as I was striving for independence and success. Digging in the soil with bare hands I felt home again. I didn’t wear gloves because I wanted to feel the earth, and feel the bulbs, seeds, and starter plants I was planting. There was something so nurturing for me as I nourished and babied the new plants to maturity. I had a strong sense I was returning to my feminine being.
excerpt from my newly released memoir, Listening to My Life: My Journey Through Fear to Trust.