Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cultivating Life

Growing up, gardening was always a chore. My mom loves to garden and has always taken special care with her flowers. Our entire backyard doesn't even have grass. Piece by piece, my mom has transformed it into her little oasis. She tried to get my sisters and I involved at different times in our lives, to pass on the gardening gene and get some help with weeding. But I always saw it as an unpleasant task. I never quite understood how my mom could enjoy working in her garden for hours on a hot, sunny Saturday when she could be enjoying the pool or a good book. To me, gardening was sweaty labor that never amounted to anything because the weeds always grew back. Plus, I was never very good at gardening, I often forget to water and I liked to say I kill anything I touch.

Well, I am proud to report that finally, I have successfully grown things. And I kind of like it. I now understand what my mother was getting from the soil, sun, and flowers. She got to cultivate life.

Cultivating life has been important to me recently. Prior to this year of prayer, I always had some kind of project to direct my energy towards. Whether it was my research, a school project, or even planning an event for my sorority, each project usually involved some kind of problem solving (let's face it, I'm an engineer, so every project had to solve a problem). But now, my environment has changed. I'm not in school, I'm not a leader in any organizations, and I'm not working. My usual sources of projects and cultivating life are purposely not a part of this stage of my life. So I've turned to other creative endeavors like painting, dancing, and ukulele playing. But none of these physically create life. I've found that growing plants and tending flowers is filling that void for me.

I'm also at an age where friends are marrying and having babies. And there is a desire inside of me to create life too. Since I can't create human life, I am creating plant life and bringing beauty to our yard and home. The flowers give me something to nurture, something to be proud of. I have never spent so much time marveling at the amount of buds on a plant or how fast a shoot has grown. I'm proud and excited to show off the beauty of the flowers or the uniqueness of a new growth to the sisters. In fact, I spent most of memorial day just staring at our hydrangea which were beginning to flower. In the course of the afternoon, I memorized which buds were most open and which part of the plant flowered blue or pink. Spending time with the flowers has become a prayer. Their beauty draws me to quiet and their growth draws me to wonder.

(a) A taste of my Mom's garden - where it all began, (b/c) the first hydrangea blooms from our backyard - watching life emerge is captivating, (d) Easter flowers in chapel bring beauty to our home.

Now that I have time to putter in the garden, weeding and watering have become less chores and more loving care for new life. Gardening takes time, more than what it takes to water and weed. Plants speak by how they grow. We, as gardeners, need to listen. A good gardener takes the time to notice the messages flowers send through their petals and leaves. I should know, I watched my mom putter in the garden for 18 years.

Gardening is a chance to cultivate life.
Gardening is a way to care for the earth and for others.
Gardening brings color to our world.
Gardening teaches me to listen and pray.

What desires are stirring in you? How can you cultivate life? What new life is begging to be watered? What are the flowers in your life telling you, through their petals and leaves?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Musings While Hiking

I've been hiking a lot recently, it helps me to clear my mind and pray. I've learned that being in silence with God does not have to be motionless.

Below are some pictures and poems from my hikes in the past couple weeks.

"A weed is simply a flower that someone decides is in the wrong place...It deserves an efficacious spot in which to flourish!" Sister Monica Joan from Call the Midwife

I find myself on a path
with cobwebs on my ankles
waiting for a glimpse
of why I am here

for who could have gone before me
if cobwebs cover the path
yet, who could come after me
if they are already broken

for the cobwebs, they lead
and yet they obscure

the cobwebs make us think of loneliness
and yet speak of something left behind

what could have gone before me?
Some-One had to lay the path.