The clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life

Witness the clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life, the sometimes-harmonic, sometimes-cacophonic combination of the silence and the noise all around, and the heroes and the helpless within.
Welcome to my little corner of The Mighty Interwebs, where it is not likely you will find anything profound (or even very interesting), but where you will find all manner of random. Life is a kaleidoscope of the weird and the wonderful, the awesome and the awful, the blessings and the bizarre, and the collision between them is what you just might stumble upon here if you stick around. Grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me if you dare.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Roots and Shoots: Lessons Learned in Life’s Garden

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
       ~Percy Bysshe Shelley~

Although staring out the window at the abundance of snow that hasn’t melted yet may make us think otherwise, the calendar tells us that spring has arrived. With the arrival of spring, many people’s thoughts turn to gardening. Personally, I have been itching to get back to the garden since leaving California in August, where I was spoiled with growing seasons that lasted more than nine months out of the year. My hunger for gardening certainly includes the flowers and produce it generates, but the fruits go beyond something that can be plucked from a vine to include something that is a sweet balm for the spirit. Whether in the care of the seeds, the nurturing of the plant, the pulling of the weeds or the harvest of the produce, gardening holds many parallels to our own lives. Both take work, require patience, go through the cycles of life and death, and produce a standard by which they are judged. These parallels give the gardener a glimpse into the creative and sustaining mind of the Lord, and offer a chance for growth if we but grasp it.

Tending a garden teaches us the necessity of letting go of the old and clearing away the undisciplined to make way for the new. If a plant gets too big, too wild, too unruly, it becomes unmanageable and can choke out other desirable life in the garden while making a habitat suitable for pests. In its proper place and appropriately maintained, however, that same plant can be beautiful, refreshing, and life-giving. In the same way, it is important to look at our lives to see whether there are things – habits, relationships, possessions – that are not unhealthy in themselves but that may have become overgrown and overwhelming. If they are not contained and managed, they can take over, and leave room for nothing else.

In both the gardens in our yards and the gardens of our lives, timing is important. A tender shoot can’t thrive if it is planted at the wrong time or under the wrong conditions. If the shoot receives proper nourishment, warmth, light, and is in a good location, it can mature into a strong and beautiful plant When those are present and balanced, the young plant can become established and is then better able to develop as it is meant to. A seed does not become a flower before it has been strengthened and has gone through the requisite stages of development. So it is in our lives and the lives of those for whom we are responsible. There are things we can do to reduce the time it takes for something to be done, but ultimately, it takes patience and work as we wait for the hard dry seed to produce a blossom and then a fruit.

A garden has a life cycle similar to our own, and goes through seasons of change and growth, renewal and death. Things may happen from day to day that are unpredictable and maybe even seem unmanageable in the short term, but they will subside. The summer storms will blow through and batter the plants, and the gentle rains will feed and cleanse them. Tomorrow will come, and with it, the fruits of a new day.

Harvesting the fruits of one’s labour is cause for celebration. The baskets of fresh produce or the marks of achievement of a goal are a source of pride. What you get out of something in life reflects what you have put into it. In the bleakness of trimmed back bushes and dead stalks, we are reminded that we may go through periods of dormancy in the winters of our lives, but when spring comes, signs of life will start to pop up.

The daughter of a building contractor, and an amateur gardener myself, I recognize that it takes a good foundation and a good root system for something to last. When raising vegetables, flowers, children, it takes deep roots that nourish them and make them grow. Without roots that reach deep to anchor and sustain a plant, it must fight to survive. Without a good grounding in morals, faith, and virtue, a person will struggle to accomplish their days with honour. I am reminded of the parable of the sower, and find hope in the knowledge that, though the heat of life sometimes seems too intense to bear, my roots are deep and my life will bear fruit. “The sower went out to sow. And whilst he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and the birds of the air came and ate it up. And some fell upon stony ground, where it had not much earth; and it shot up immediately, because it had no depth of earth. And when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And some fell upon good grounds; and brought forth fruit that grew up and increased.” (Mark 4:3-9)

Now go - put down roots, and grow where you are planted!

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