Recently, I’ve been reading a wonderful book called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. In one of the chapters she writes about the experience of being deeply connected with nature through gardening. She brings forward the question “Do you feel loved by your garden?” The common experience for devoted gardeners is a feeling of accomplishment, joy and wonder when creating a healthy, vibrant environment. Kimmerer’s intention, though, is to help us recognize that, when well cared for, a garden demonstrates it’s gratitude and love by thriving and offering us communion.
The garden provides solace, inspiration, gratitude, exercise and yes, love, throughout the years. According to Dictionary.com, communion is “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level”.
Gardeners work hard taking care of the necessary elements of clearing away debris, pruning back wayward limbs, enlivening the soil, watering and harvesting. All to start over again and again. The rhythms of gardening (if you’re following nature’s lead) are cyclical and repetitive. It is easy to get stuck in the mindless drudgery of repetition and obligation.
Instead, consider slowing down and taking projects a little at a time so the experience can be enjoyed. Rest frequently and gaze around the garden – not to look at what needs to be done, though that happens spontaneously – but to commune with the plant life surrounding you. Pause long enough to watch the bees flitting from flower to flower. Or listen to the sound of the hummingbirds and squirrels. Perhaps caressing a scented geranium to stimulate the deep breaths that come with the release of the aroma. Feel the sun on your face. Or enjoy the cool breeze that is offered on a cloudy day.
This is how we receive the love in the garden. Each plant is offering you love through its existence. Even when a plant is crying out for help, it is giving love through its vulnerability and reliance on your love and attention. Everyone wants to be appreciated and cared for. Taking time in the garden to be in communion feeds all of the life in the garden – including you!