Most of the wisdom I need in life is found in my garden. A quiet, serene sanctuary, my garden invites me to slow down and pay attention to the small but important lessons it desires to teach.
Keep the weeds pulled. Water deeply and regularly. Pay attention to the light. Plant according to a plan. Create beauty. Be gentle. Be patient. Pruning is necessary. Carefully cultivate the little things. Watch for signs that the seasons are changing.
I’m pretty good at knowing what to do when the seasons are clearly defined. It’s the seasons of in between that are the real test – times when the breeze changes direction, the sun’s pattern shifts, and what was once lush begins to wither and die.
How do I create beauty during seasons of in between? What do I plant? What do I pull? How do I cultivate life that is not yet visible above the surface of the soil?
The seasons of my life are changing; the signs unmistakable. There is a metaphorical chill in the air that has taken the bloom off of what was once lush.
The perennials in my life – my faith, marriage, family and health – endure stronger than ever, despite the seasons and storms of life. I continue to feed, water, and carefully nurture them, knowing they are the foundational plants that form the structure in my life’s proverbial garden.
Life’s annuals, however, are clearly at the end of their cycle. Their leaves are yellowed and brown, their once colorful blooms now shriveled and brittle. One by one, I am carefully examining them, looking to see if there is any life that remains. If not, they must be pulled to make way for something new, something that has not yet germinated.
But their roots are often intertwined with those of my perennial, foundational plants. Pulling them must be done carefully so as not to damage the root system of what is still growing and maturing; what is intended to survive all of life’s seasons.
These days, this means I am digging around below the surface of life’s soil to see how to untangle the roots. It is dirty, painstaking work. It is tedious. Messy. Ugly. At times, I have to make careful, calculated cuts, severing what is diseased or dying from what is healthy. It is painful.
When I step back to examine my efforts I see ground gone fallow. Bare. Brown. Empty. And in my mind’s eye, I see what once was. There is sadness in recalling the beauty that formerly existed. I feel the urge to try and recreate or resurrect what I had so carefully planned, planted, pruned, watered, and nurtured.
Immediately, I want to plunk down something new to fill the space, to hide the bare spots. But I am now a mature enough gardener to know that sometimes I have to live with the barren, the blank space, and the fallow in order for a new vision – a new season – to emerge.
During this season of in between, it’s sometimes difficult to keep calling myself a gardener. There isn’t a lot of color, scent, or sweetness in my life’s current garden.
Still, I keep digging, untangling the roots of what once was from what remains. I’m a gardener, after all; it’s what I do. In this season of in between, I’m looking for new life to cultivate, grateful for what remains foundational; hopeful for new slips of beauty that will fill what is currently barren.