Monthly Archives: August 2007

Mud

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I didn’t have a particularly good afternoon.   I will not elaborate on the details but let it suffice that most of the afternoon I felt very low.  If my mood were palpable, it would be like mud-dark, sticky and awful.

Given the theme of this blog, it shouldn’t surprise you that these days I am looking at life’s circumstances through the eyes of a gardener, and it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see the metaphor inherent in mud.

If mud is made of water and nutrient-laden earth, if in its darkness seeds find a home, if young life springs from it after a sufficient time of barrenness, then my mood of the afternoon should bring forth some greenness.   In the darkness of my spirit, hope germinates.   No bad time last forever-all becomes well in time.

So, after pondering this metaphor all afternoon, you can imagine my delight when I got home and found that the seeds of my tiny kitchen herb garden have germinated.

Lori G (c)  2007

The Call

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I’ve been pondering gardens quite a bit during the last week. There is something deep within me that yearns to stick my hands into dark, moist earth and smell its fragrance. There is something about being around plants that energizes me. There is something hope-filled about seeing the first sprouts of germinated seeds.

I live in an apartment in a big city. I am surrounded by office buildings and all other trappings of urban life. Buses thunder by my front steps, literally fifteen feet from my front door. My windows rattle when jets take off at a nearby airport.

I do not have a yard, balcony or patio for any sort of garden. Even my window sills are too narrow for a proper planter and plants scorch in the southern exposure of these windows anyway. I tried potted ferns one time in the dark recessess of my apartment, but it’s too warm and dry when I’m not at home to keep the windows open and the air circulating. Having any sort of greenery seems hopeless where I live. (Oh, and community garden plots are not within my budget at this time).

Still I have this longing….. Up until my parents’ generation, my kin have been tilling the soil since our first barbarian ancestors crawled out of the forests of Europe to settle down on the land. This call to the earth is a part of my DNA.

So, with all the talk of gardens, wild or otherwise, I found myself drawn to a garden center this weekend. I wandered up and down the rows, lusting after the geranium plantlings and herb pots. I handled glazed pottery and imagined how they would look on my kitchen table. I even considered cacti to handle the wicked sunlight. Finally, I succumbed to temptation and bought a very small window planter, a bag of potting soil, and packages of Italian parsley and Lemon Balm seeds. (I don’t know why Lemon Balm– I just liked the soothing sound of the name). I carefully prepared the soil and sowed the seeds according to package instructions. The planter is sitting on my kitchen table with slightly tilted venetian blinds to filter the light. I have no idea if the seeds will even germinate. This may be one more foiled attempt at gardening in my apartment, but at least I had to try.

I can’t afford not to.

Lori G. (c) 2007

About Wild Gardens

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The label “wild gardens” is comprised of seemingly contradictory terms. One scholar has written that gardens are “enclosed, protective places that…are metaphors for [the] cosmos in the face of chaos.”1 Similarly, another writer has defined the garden as a symbol for the subjugation of nature2. This would appear to be true: by function, gardens are places where nature is tamed and forced to grow in a particular way by the hand of the gardener.

But how often do we sow real seeds and see them wither and die after a few days of sprouting. Perhaps we gave them too much water, or provided the wrong soil, or sowed them at the wrong time of the year. Yet, nature has a way of taking the situation in hand. Seeds are borne to our gardens on the breath of the wind or by the wings of birds. Then, with no help from us, we see those seeds sprout and some time later our gardens fill with unexpected flowers of various sorts. Or we chop down a plant that we think we do not like, yet it comes back year after year without any help from us. It grows as nature wills.

The practical lesson here is that the successful gardener knows the nature of her seeds, knows when to plant and when to water, follows the cycles of the year. Instead of working against nature, she works with it. She lets her garden be its true self. She lets it be “wild.”

In line with what the writers above have said, the garden is a metaphor for the protected space within us. It represents the sacred place of our souls. It is the fertile ground of our imaginations. Like a good gardener that knows the nature of the plants in her garden, we also need to know the nature of our inner selves. When we till the soil of our inner gardens, we must keep in mind our unique characteristics that make us individuals. We need to accept the fact that we may be an orchid that will not flourish in a cactus patch, or a water lily that cannot find a place in a rose garden. We need to let our inner selves be as nature made them and take root in the right soil and environment. We need to be in tune with our inner nature and let ourselves be “wild.”

Estes writes that “whatever can happen to a garden can happen to soul and psyche…”3. Likewise, we need to irrigate our souls with spiritual water, not too little and not too much. We need to watch for weeds of inner criticism and self-condemnation and yank them out. When the cold winds of despair blow through us, we need to cover the seedlings of our spirit so they will not die.

As we take care of our gardens and let them be wild, then nature will take over and our gardens we will enjoy rich and beautiful yields.

Text and Image, Lori G © 2007

1. Leeming, David Adams. The World of Myth: An Anthology. Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 345

2. Cirlot, J.E. A Dictionary of Symbols, Second Edition. Dover Publications, 2002, p. 115.

3. Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Ballantine Books, Mass Market Edition, 1997, p. 105

Planting Seeds of Inspiration

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The following was originally published for the Lemurian Abbey blog in October, 2006.

In the back of my choir loft are some tall windows letting in the warm southern sun. I have packages of seeds of varieties that are unknown to me. The instructions are unusual too– no directives for the usual amounts of water, sun and soil– but strange commands for ample water drawn from the nutrient-laden well of my soul, loam properly stirred and warmed by the duende spirit, the light of inspiration from above, and the Divine breath for the proper circulation of air. Daily attendance to the seedlings would be an absolute necessity for no growth can be insured if the pots are neglected. Not having a particularly green thumb, I will be careful to follow the directions to the letter.

I also assembled my gardening tools: observation, insight, composition and metaphor, and a very sharp pair of shears to prune away superfluous words and ramblings.

I prepared the pots and finished by inserting the seed packet labels into each pot so I could identify the growth I know will eventually come forth– stories laden with sumptuous descriptions, characters of depth and insight, lively dialogue, and messages of profound meaning.

If I take care and nurture these seedlings, then the results, I know, will be bounteous.

Image and text: Lori G (c) 2006