I have been spending a fair amount of time recently with my vegetables. I have three separate spaces they are in…. one large summer garden, one pretty big planter and a bed at the side of my house. Two are ones I can plant early with cool crops, while the large one waits until May. And it has been gratifying this year to see things growing (at least the plants, even though not much harvest yet) much better than last year. I have been out there staking the climbers, caging the tomatoes, laying straw down as mulch, planting a second round of beans and beets, weeding and pruning, and so far I have been rewarded with some really sweet peas! But the other day I was doing some work when I spotted something amongst the leaves. My first zucchini had seemingly sprung up overnight and grown to almost ready to pick stage! I was excited and gave thanks, searched for anything else that might be hiding (nothing) and continued to work, letting this first zucchini grow to maturity.
It occurred to me, seeing that zucchini, that gardening is the same as doing our spiritual, healing work. We can work and weed… doing all those unpleasant, sweaty, dirty things that need to be done. We can water and plant and fertilize, trying to draw out the goodness and encourage the things we want to grow. We can struggle to find time to really do the work, or avoid some of it all together. We can get frustrated when unwanted beings and bugs get into the garden.
All of a sudden
When we least expect it
We spot new hope!
Sometimes it is hidden, hard to see. Sometimes we play that game of showing it to the world now or risking the wait until it matures, hoping that something doesn’t come in to get it. Often it takes us by surprise, seeing all that hard work pay off in one quick new swoop.
For me, gardening is also an issue of justice. We must take care of the earth we have been given, creating spaces for butterflies and bees and squirrels. Planting for future generations, both human and other than human. Sharing the bounty with others. And, again, this too is our healing work. We don’t just do it for us. We do it for those around us, those who have come before us and those who will come after us. For the very creation that, as a peoples, we seem to be destroying, but also for our communities and families.
What in your life needs weeding? What needs watering and nurturing? What needs to be pruned? What seeds of hope and justice need to be sown? What needs to be mulched to keep that moisture of love in? What simply needs to be left alone to mature? What is ready to surprise you!
I’ve had a lot of people ask me recently to describe to them what EcoDirection is. The problem is that it’s one of those things that is hard to describe in a few words! The closest I can get is to say it’s a way of being in nature prayerfully to pay attention to how nature is aiding us, responding to our questions, or showing up in our healing.
But maybe the best way to talk about it is to give a couple of examples.
I was out with someone the other day, and she was talking about how to find space in her life for herself with all the responsibilities she has. As we were walking and talking, we came to a long line of lilac bushes, about 12 feet wide and 100 feet long. On one side of the trees was a lot of noise and people working, cutting the grass, moving things around. On the other side was a hermitage, a large field, silence, and no people. We stood in the middle of the line of trees, feeling the dichotomy, sensing the way the bushes were setting a boundary with no feelings of guilt or ‘shoulds’.
When we were ready, we continued on our way. After a minute or so I stopped in my tracks with a smile on my face. There was a car parked by the second hermitage with the license plate, “RU BEEE”. How perfect! Can we ‘be’ in the present, allowing the world to fall away, staying in the presence of the Divine, allowing the world to be there without drawing us into its dramas and demands, without expectations or being caught by the needs of the world, just for a moment or three! The joy on my clients face as we reveled in this unexpected gift of a license plate was expressed with abandon!
Another time, during the training I did, I had an experience I had has stayed with me. As a child most of my remembered physical experiences were hard and painful. As a result I spent a lot of my childhood living outside of my body, disassociated from the physical-ness of life. I have done a lot of work with these painful parts, remembering and re-experiencing them as a path to healing, but it was a surprise when I had a memory of a pleasant physical experience of being a child. It began one night when the rain was coming down hard, and coming into my tent. My sleeping bag was wet, and the sound of rain was hitting the tent, leading me back to times of camping with the Girl Guides as a ten year old. I loved camping, so although this may sound unpleasant to you, it was a gift to have this body memory of a time when I was safe and able to be myself! During a training session I wanted to explore this feeling, to allow a good physical memory to sink into my being. As I explored it with my partner, we found a pool of water, and we waded right in, allowing the water sensation to help me truly feel and remember and ground and be in my body as that ten year old. This was truly a moment of reframing the notion that my WHOLE childhood was physically hard, and allowed me to reclaim that there were moments of joy and freedom that I had full body lived into.
When we are in nature, we can find reflections in the physical (and spiritual) world that can help our inner world, and I find it is helpful for people to not only see this, but to linger for a while, allowing the outer physical things to become a part of us through playing with them, experiencing them fully into the cells of our being, incorporating them into our life and the cells of our body. Standing on the boundary and feeling both worlds, for example, or moving nature objects around, or finding something that is a reflection of where we are in the moment. It can help us really embody a new way of being, take a step into healing, find a new, safe way to express feelings with the support of the world around us.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.