I tend to be an "English Garden" style of writer. Wanting to ponder each word’s placement, making sure the color, texture and sound are pleasing and balanced. Perhaps it is my English heritage, my desire to have order in my life, my perfectionism or the many other reasons I can devise that keep me pouring over a poem, a blog post, an email even, well beyond when it is time to say “done!” However, on my Sunday morning walk yesterday, once again my teacher, Nature, suggested I try to loosen up. So I am going to be vulnerable and brave and write this blog post in one go with one edit before I post.
Gardens, forests, nature. The wisdom and insights I receive when I simply slow down offer innumerable blessings. As I considered my “English Garden” metaphor, I thought how lovely a precisely designed garden is to behold. I have traveled to both England and France and experienced the beauty of both palace and roadside gardens cultivated in this manner. And the Butchart Gardens in Victoria has been one of my favorite places to visit. To stroll the grounds and take in the aromas, the visual painting of the landscape is a gift to the receiver. And as lovely as that is, someone has planted and tamed and tended each bed. This is not nature’s usual way of being. Any plant that is not wanted is considered a weed, whether or not it is “weedy.” Like anything in our life, such control and beauty comes at a price when taken to the extreme. When I am afraid to let go of control (or my perception of control) I box myself into defined garden spaces and though it looks pleasing to the eye, the price is loss of voice and vulnerability. So, yes, there is a place for the English Garden in life. Time when order and borders are healthy and good. But as the only garden, or even the dominate one, I’ve come to the conclusion that is not where I need to be tending the soil.
So, where did my eye rove next. The freer, more natural gardens. Where foxgloves, columbines, hostas, rhododendrons, lavender and other perennials return year after year. Lawns are often replaced with wooded areas or, if left in place, not manicured to a fine golf course texture, but more rugged. Dandelions are allowed to yellow the outer edges without fear of Round-up. It is not that these gardens are untended. I see the gardener out, weeding, raking, separating bulbs and tubers. But there seems to be a conversation going on between the gardener and the garden. What do you think? Do you need more room? Shade or sun? There is patience in waiting for foliage to die off, fall to the ground and decompose naturally. When I live my life in this natural rhythm, allowing what needs to fall away, there is more ease. To not abruptly pull up weeds just because they seem unsightly or I feel uncomfortable, then life unfolds with less stress. That is not to say there are times when quick action is not necessary, but it is not the default. I don’t have to yank on every small shoot coming up that is unexpected, thinking it “doesn’t belong.” It may be just where it needs to be and I may need to wait to see the beauty.
I have walked by those places that have been abandoned and the yards have been untended, becoming overgrown. Nature has reclaimed the space. That too has lessons for me. There is fruit available for birds in the blackberries that soon overtake any beds and shrubs. Hidden in the dark undergrowth, pine needles, leaves, and other natural debris decompose and a lushness is reborn. Snails, slugs, beetles, an assortment of miniature life thrives, protected from sun and rain. There are many times in my life I need to abandon my old ways of doing things, to rest my spirit, to let go of assumptions and see what can thrive in the undergrowth. Letting go of the old ways though, means being vulnerable. After leaving the undergrowth, I eventually return to the light, transplanting myself back into refreshed soil, trying out new ways of being, taking risks.
Which brings me back to this blog post. I have so many ideas bounce around in my head, especially when I walk. Then I come home and, when I have time, which is usually several hours later, I start writing, trying to pull together my random thoughts. Then I set it aside, come back to it, revise, revise, get new ideas. Well, you get the picture. Eventually, my perfectionist kicks in and puts things on hold for a few days, a week or more before posting. Today is different. Today the “gardener” who is tending this piece is letting the words flow, talking to the garden, letting go of control. So with little editing and second guessing, here are my garden words.
And what about you? What type of garden do you internally tend? If you were to take a risk, be vulnerable, even in a small way in the week ahead, what would that look like?
Last chance to sign up for my June 10th Grief and Loss workshop: Journey Through Loss: Exploring Grief and Loss Through the Archetype of the Labyrinth: