New pleasures in gardening

Since picking up my old gardening routines a few weeks ago, I’ve been working at it steadily.  I had a lot of cleanup to do: weeds, weeds, more weeds, and lots of old vines growing on my fence lines that had died and gone to heaven long ago.  They are now composting, and I need to build another bin this weekend to accommodate more of them from the front yard as well.

It is steady work, and I never have to worry about being laid off or bored.  Doesn’t pay much, though.

I take a few pictures now and then, and when I get a little extra time on weekends, I’ll try to post some of them.  In this short time, the appearance of my backyard has changed, and it’s becoming my favorite hangout again.  If I could only watch the baseball playoffs out there, I’d work into the night.

It has become a stress reliever.  When I get home after my one-hour commute every weekday, I get a kiss from my wife, I give my dogs a couple of treats, and then I change into my grubby clothes and spend at least 30 minutes before cleaning up and starting dinner.  The evenings pass much more pleasantly and without the usual stress of the work week.

Besides stress relief, I have a growing sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.  Taking care of the “garden”, in a spiritual sense, always provides an abundance of good feelings, and it leaves some of the unnecessary things, like worries, behind.  There will be enough of those for tomorrow.

Resting the spirit in the garden

Peace roseWe must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest.— Voltaire

Nothing against rest, you understand, right?  Coming off of a three-day weekend, I can vouch for the benefits of rest.  But, there are different kinds of rest, and I hardly lack the physical kind.  Mine is the need for mental rest.

I have noticed that while working at my job, at my computer, studying technical information and engineered drawings and schematics, my mind is usually alert to every detail.  It requires concentrating all my mental resources on one focal point for several minutes, or sometimes hours, without lifting my eyes from the page.  Over the years, concentrating on such details has become less and less stressful, because I’ve become accustomed to it.  I can steal two or three minutes between drawings and projects, take a quick walk around the office, and I’m ready to go on to the next one with all my resources.

But, when weekends get here, the thing I long for most is to relax my head, and take in sunshine, good food, and the warmth of my wife and dogs, who are always willing, it seems, to accommodate.

Gardening is a special place set aside in my psyche that tires me physically and relaxes me mentally, the perfect prescription for the spiritual experience of powers beyond my understanding.  It is meditational, yet it is as physically basic as anything a person can do.

From out of nowhere, it seems, rest comes, the mind recovers, and the body comes along for the ride.

Source for Voltaire quote: 32 inspirational gardening quotes | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Beauty

While at a dinner party at La Calle Doce in Dallas, we saw this beautiful girl celebrating her First Communion.  Her parents were very gracious in allowing me to intrude long enough to have them pose for this picture.  Just look at the contented faces and smiles of her parents.  This is beauty.

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Redemption

I’ve been thinking a lot today about redemption, especially about the many, many times in my life I have personally been forgiven for things I have carelessly, or sometimes purposely, done that have brought unnecessary pain or troubles to others. In the whole course of life, there have been far too many. The experience of grace is a cleansing of soul and spirit.

Redemption comes in many places. In my life I have experienced it from my wife and daughter, my mother and siblings, and from friends who continue to bless me with simple kindnesses and warm relationships. I become aware of these redemptive moments in the quiet spaces I have created for myself while reading, gardening, cooking, driving, writing, or simply chilling with my hands petting a dog on each side where I am sitting. Grace is truly amazing!

Serenity

Over against the world with all its turbulence, distraction and worry,
one should cultivate a style of mind that can reach through to an inner
stillness and calm.  The world cannot ruffle the dignity of a soul that dwells
in its own tranquility.  Gradually, this serenity will begin to pervade our
seeing and change the way we look at things.

John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Beauty in the garden and in the spirit

“Our deepest self-knowledge unfolds as we are embraced by Beauty.”

John O’Donohue, from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Looking at some old garden pictures, these massive sunflowers are from my summer of 2011 seedings.  Caught up in the warm and wonderful memories of my childhood, when these grew wild in back of our suburban home in Dallas, in 2011 I tried to recreate the warmth and beauty of the fondest of my childhood memories of home.  These grew to about 80 inches tall and were loaded with seeds for the birds to eat.

Spirituality and gardening have a superior connection in my life.  Reading from John O’Donohue’s books assures me that I’m not alone in this experience.

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Good morning, world!

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It’s easier to face each day when the beauty of natural things greets you like this!

On my way out the door to get a few groceries this morning, I turned around to see how my roses looked today.  I had to stop and take a picture.  The breathtaking beauty was enough to put a smile on my face and a reminder in my heart that we are but a small part of a world that strives to show itself off, like a little girl playing “princess” in her mommy’s high heels, red lipstick, and sequined gown.

How precious are the days in which we do nothing but enjoy what nature brings at our doorstep.