Tending New Growth

And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. – MEISTER ECKHART

I’ve not been in the library for two days. And I miss it. But I’m planning the garden, and I got my hands dirty yesterday moving pansies into a window box. It’s a very small beginning. And it’s also overwhelming.

I’ve lived here for over 4 years now, and standing in front of the fig trees at the nursery, reading the requirements, I realize I don’t know how much sun that side of the house gets. Whether the yoga room with it’s glass window ever provides direct sunlight in the summertime.

Do I water the flowers once I’ve put them in the new pots?

Age brings with it what Norwegians call taus kunnskap – silent knowledge. Well, not age exactly, but the experience of living in the world and paying attention to what moves – and how. But here: I know nothing. Have noticed nothing. How does the sun move over the sky during the day?

I’ve long wanted to be the kind of person who gardens. And now (along with everyone else it seems) I want to garden. The pandemic zeitgeist: we turn to the earth. And a lot of people try to convince themselves disease is man-made, and I suppose that attributing control – even malevolent control – to humanity is a kind of comfort in the face of all this nature. But I’ve become a realist. If there is such a thing.

From dust to dust. As Hamlet says, we fat ourselves for maggots.

The woman who lived next door was in her mid 90s, pulling carrots from the ground as I left for work in the mornings. The garden had been her husband’s. And when he died, she tended the kitchen garden, and the roses.

Now the kitchen garden, a year and a half since her death, is still visible, still distinguishable from the lawn, though no one has planted with an eye towards harvesting. I wonder how long the earth will remember, if left to itself. I expect the lawn covering her coffin has been smoothed over already. We like to put distance between ourselves and what we can no longer control. We like whole stories, and tidy endings.

At the end of the virtual Camino, moving closer toward the “end of the world”, the pilgrims are considering grace: a word that means so many things it’s more like an ambiance than a word. The mouth opens and closes like an embrace. There is a kind of taking in, in the pronunciation itself. Exhale. Receive – while you give. You can’t help it.

I should have been gardening all along. Intermingling with the world. Getting my hands dirty. This is truly the road we are traveling, and grace is everywhere if we notice it.

Grace is the world’s effortless flow. Even if accepting it requires effort: requires having the grace to let it be.



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