“The garden is a metaphor for life, and gardening is a symbol of the spiritual path.”

— Larry Dossey

Late yesterday afternoon, I finally did it — my vegetable plants have been set into the soil of my garden patch.  Growing vegetables is something that always brings me joy.  I love the smell of the fresh, pungent earth.  I love the feel of the rich, black loam in my hands.  I love the process of watching the small seedlings grow strong and sturdy.  Then why did I feel so cranky as I began my gardening season yesterday?  There was a border of weeds to pull that had grown in the places the tiller could not reach; and their roots seemed to hang on more stubbornly than usual.  The day was hot and humid; and even at the end of the afternoon, the sweat that beaded up on my forehead kept running down into my eyes, clouding my vision and causing them to sting.

There was something about the winter of 2011 that caused my asparagus plants to die.  Only two of the thriving bed survived; so this year I had the additional task of replanting my favorite Spring veggie and knowing that I will not taste any from my own garden for a year or two.  The weather ruled our Spring, too, and it seemed that every time we thought of the garden, torrential rain would wash away our plans.  There is no point in running the tiller through mud.  It only leaves behind clumps of soil that still need to be broken before tender plants can set their roots.  On the two weekends that might have offered breaks in the weather we were out of town.  I had begun to wonder whether a garden would even be part of my life this year.  But it is planted.  Today I will find a nursery that offers some pepper plants, a plum tomato, and perhaps a squash.  Once they have been set in the ground, I will begin my daily visits and watch the magic happen.

Gardening truly is a symbol of the spiritual path.  For me, it is something that lies directly in my path.  There are times when our walk is filled with joy.  There are times when we delight in the dance through reliable growth and sweetness and the walk hardly seems like work at all.  There are other times when it seems that our dreams will be washed away in torrents of rain.  There are times when there are new intentions to plant and rocks to be cleared, and an awareness that it will take some time to see the fruits of our labor.  There are times when it seems that the overabundant rain only serves the weeds that lurk at the sides of the path and threaten to overtake it and obscure our vision of where we are going.  Still, we persevere.  And even when it seems that the joy is buried somewhere deep beneath the surface, we labor in faith and finish the day knowing that we have uncovered something of substance as we clear the way for the days to come.

When I awoke this morning, the first thing on my mind was to go outside and check on my garden.  There stood the seedlings planted only hours ago.  They were standing upright.  Not one had wilted to the ground.  As I made my circuit of the garden fence, I heard myself greeting each one of them and welcoming them to my garden.  It was then that I felt it — a small spark of joy — and the hard work of yesterday became a distant memory in the light of a new day.