“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” Elizabeth Lawrence

It’s spring at last, on the calendar, but also in our hearts and in the air, as well as in our gardens — a time of rejuvenation, birth, transformation, growth and change. Gardens all over are bursting with vibrant life!

Fitting for the season, I offer you an excerpt from an essay in BECOMING called Gardens and Gifts:

“There are many kinds of gardens in our lives, not just the ones that grow flowers or vegetables. One could think of a circle of friends as a kind of garden, the arrangement of our cupboards, the plates and herbs we choose, the range of jobs we’ve held…

The life of an octogenarian Austrian great-grandma I know comprised several kinds of gardens. Recalling Oma’s variety of gardens has helped me reflect on mine. I have found the metaphor of ‘Life itself as a Garden’ to be fruitful (pun intended) and munificent.

Oma has a vital and robust will to live, even under her present challenging circumstances. She is in her nineties now, frail, confused, wizened, but her face can shine like a fading flower’s last bloom as, with her sense of humor and unrelenting determination, she decides anew to make the best of the situation.

Oma … has modeled for me in a way that made a lasting impression—how to cultivate the beautiful and useful, savor the honey and honeysuckle along the way, and not to pay unnecessary attention to the weeds or irritations, only deal with them if they’re choking other growing things.

We’re always planting seeds, whether we are aware of it or not. We never know when we may have planted a seed that will bear fruit some time, some place. It’s also probable, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, that we reap what we sow. ‘Life as a garden’ is alive, and can enchant, instruct, and nourish ourselves and others.”

If you find the metaphor useful, here are some questions for reflection: How does your garden grow? What sorts of seeds do you believe you are planting? If the fruit they bear are not exactly what you intended, what seeds would you like to plant and how could you nurture them? What are some ‘weeds’ in your garden and how do you relate to them? What are some aspects of your ‘garden’ that you particularly treasure and why?

As we go about tending the various gardens in our lives, or the garden of our life, let us also pay attention to the butterflies! Elisabet Sahtouris, an evolution biologist and futurist, offers this: “An old unsustainable system fights to preserve itself as a new system struggles to be born… There is no point in being angry with it and there is n need to worry about defeating it. The task is to focus on building the butterfly, the success of which depends on powerful positive and creative efforts in all aspects of society and alliances build among those engaged in them.”

Let’s tend our gardens and build more butterflies this spring!

You may purchase BECOMING on line, or ask your local bookstore to order it. It can be a valuable therapeutic tool as well. Read a therapist’s perspective on its value. And another idea: the collections of essays makes a good option for your book or study group 🙂

Share this: