“There is a continuity about the garden and an order of succession in the garden year which is deeply pleasing, and in one sense there are no breaks or divisions. Seed time flows on to flowering time and harvest time; no sooner is one thing dying than another is coming to life.” Susan Hill and Rory Stuart
How would you describe your state of mind? Do the circumstances of your life define the quality of your experience? Are you feeling constantly stressed, worried and hurried? We can feel like complete failures when things don’t work out the way we planned. Most of us have been pressured to feel this way because we believe a story that isn’t true. We’ve been told life is short and we only get one chance, so we rush through our lives seldom stopping to savor the moment. It often feels like the seasons of our lives are marching from one to the next, until one day, we’re done. The worst part is believing that there is only one opportunity to get it all right.
We believe that in the spring of life, we are young and vibrant and only then will we experience significant growth. Then as summer comes, we reach our maturity. This season is the highlight of our lives, the time when we are most successful and prolific. Once autumn arrives, if we’re lucky, we will receive a harvest. Though many of us will not be that fortunate and soon a foreboding chill will roll in to signal the beginning of the end. Once winter settles in, we believe we will become old and frail and then soon face our inevitable demise. This myth prevents many of us from moving forward to overcome challenges and holds us in a state of hopelessness. If we’ve only got one shot, it’s no wonder we are all stressed out.
Now it’s time for us to learn to live differently. We must rediscover our essential nature of hope, optimism and joy. We need to find a way to dismantle our false beliefs and remember the unlimited potential we felt as children. Now is the time to let nature teach us a fresh new perspective.
Making the Connection
Every major spiritual tradition speaks of a teacher that went to find peace in a garden. Throughout history, leaders of nations have stepped into nature to find solace. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill were all accomplished gardeners and naturalists. Many of these teachers and leaders used lessons from their experiences to convey important messages and deep truths. One of the most inspiring of these visionaries, Nelson Mandela, initiated something incredible during his long years of incarceration; he cultivated a garden in prison to lift his spirits. He even shared his harvest with those who imprisoned him. His garden was his place of renewal and an affirmation that growth was still possible. Mandela’s visionary message was far greater than any prison could hold.
Each one of us must be willing to step outside of the prison of our past beliefs if we are hoping to find relief. We must think outside of the conditions that we are living in by setting free our mind, spirit and body. We must release the shackles we have placed on our own abilities if we sincerely want to be succeed. Cultivating a new perspective is the key to unlocking the door that contains our spirit. It will take courage to leave the familiarity of the prison we have known, but our hearts crave freedom. Freedom is our true nature.
“A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a taste of freedom. In some ways, I saw the garden as a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. A leader must also tend his garden; he, too, plants seeds, and then watches, cultivates, and harvests the results. Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates.” Nelson Mandela
We find ourselves in a world that is perpetually focused on bad news and we are constantly bombarded with messages of impending doom. We become fearful that these disasters will steal our one and only chance at living a happy life. As years pass by, many of us become obsessed with avoiding what we don’t want to impact us, impairing our ability to enjoy what is going on right now. We are paralyzed with fear of the unknown and stay trapped in a repetition of the same choices leading to the same situations. Those who are experiencing a genuine crisis are constantly reminded of more to worry about. At times it seems impossible to know where to look to find a source of relief. As we search endlessly for something new to become, different to do, or just one more thing to buy, we are losing our connection with nature, yet this relationship is essential to our well-being.
Our modern society is immersed in an ocean of hyper-connectivity that delivers a tsunami of data. We are drowning in information, yet starving for wisdom. We carry devices with us that have the potential to connect us with anyone on the planet at any time. Unfortunately, many of us still feel lonely and isolated. We divide ourselves by nationality, religious and political views, race, gender and personal preferences. Our culture promotes individuality but also condemns anyone who strays too far from what is the acceptable norm. Is there any place that we can find common ground? I believe there is, and we are all standing on it. There is one unifying truth we can all agree upon. We are all residents of planet Earth. Once we remember how to connect to this truth while experiencing the healing gifts of nature, we are never really alone. That’s a connection that will never fail us.
“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” George Washington Carver
In the midst of all of our distress and worry, planet Earth continues to grow and thrive. Trees stand tall, flowers blossom, brooks babble and songbirds serenade us. But many of us do not take the time to listen or notice this loveliness all around. On these pages, you will be given the opportunity to reinstate your elemental connection with nature. You will remember there is eloquent beauty in the natural world to focus on. There is always somewhere a person can go to find peace and that place is just outside of our door.
The truth is, we are part of nature and not separate from it.
By recognizing this one fact, we can find something we often feel is missing from our lives. By connecting with this boundless resource, we can enjoy an endless supply of relief that is always available.
“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” Rumi
You Are A Gardener
You have been growing ever since the day you were born. Your body has changed, your perspective has changed and most importantly, you have expanded through the experiences of your life. It is impossible to keep everything just as it is. Have you ever noticed that the harder you try to hold on to something, the more quickly and easily it seems to get away? That is because it is our nature to evolve. The most successful people in long lasting relationships all continue to mature and change. Even if you feel completely stuck where you are right now, you know that you want to move forward. You want to expand your territory. You want to move past your perceived boundaries. Just think about the last time you had a new idea. Didn’t you feel the excitement of something new and fresh moving through your body? That idea was a seed for your future experiences. That knowing tells you there must be more for you, a whole new space to grow into.
remember, goodness grows,