...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sabbath Rest: the Garden as Service

While not a particularly religious quote, the following excerpt becomes deeply religious, I think, when taken as an analogy to our larger world of service to our fellowman.  It offers food for reflection on how we incorporate that service into our daily lives.  This being Palm Sunday--a time  when the idea of good times and hard times are so closely aligned in the life of Christ--may we also pause and consider the fuller spectrum of our service to others' needs.

"For ten years, I cared for my ill and elderly mother while she was bedridden and slipping into oblivion.  Ultimately, she died at home--peacefully--holding my hand.  It was worth it.  But it was the hardest thing I ever did.  At times my garden and my gardening was an immense comfort and satisfaction.  It grounded me.  It soothed and restored me.  It reminded me of the basics.  It regularly ushered me into a contemplative time and space that allowed me to see the bigger picture.  It also gave me something to show and tell to my mother that she could still understand and take pleasure in.  She loved to look at and touch the bright delicious fruits and vegetables and hear the stories about what they were and exactly how I grew them.  She couldn't remember the stories, but she liked hearing them.  And she still enjoyed good food.  Really superb food of the most flavorful varieties, picked at its prime and prepared optimally--it is a special pleasure.  My mother enjoyed that great food until the end.  The garden helped sustain us both, physically and emotionally.

However, there were plenty of times my gardening fell apart or overwhelmed me instead of sustaining me.  There were medical emergencies that took my full time and attention for weeks.  The garden wouldn't get tended until they were over.  Many times I lost entire crops and much of the season's labor because of my inability to tend the garden at critical times.  I myself sometimes suffered from health problems and injuries that interfered with gardening.  When I most needed help, my garden often created pressures and contributed to my problems instead of relieving them. 

These days, we tend to design our gardens and our gardening for good times, times when everything is going well.  That isn't what we need.  Reality is, there is almost always something going wrong.  Hard times are normal.  My experience of gardening while caring for my mother helped me realize that.  I needed to garden differently.  My garden needed to be designed around the reality that life has its ups and downs.  It has good times and bad.  How to garden in the best of times was not the issue.  I didn't need a "good times garden."  I needed to understand more about how to garden in hard times.  I needed a more resilient garden.  And I needed a garden that better enhanced my own resilience, in all kinds of times, good and bad."  --The Resilient Gardener, by Carol Deppe

Blessed resilience to your personal ministries in life...

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