I spend a lot of my days in the vegetable garden. It is a good teacher. Some days I weed and that’s that – I am simply present to the plants right in front of me. A wonderful practice of learning to pay attention, I find. Some days this practice of being in the present moment unexpectedly calls attention to some weeding that wants to happen in me. It is as if from somewhere in the deep ground of my being a little more sun wants to give something in my life more clarity or purification. Good, and challenging…
One morning I am pulling weeds from around the tiniest of kale plants just peeking above the soil. The weeds, a natural part of a garden’s life, are doing what weeds do; but if they get the best of the new growth, the kale will not have much chance to come into its own. I need to be very careful with the work at hand, gently loosening the dirt and clearing right up against the tiny fragile plant. Some of the weeds come easily, others are tougher, the roots harder to bring to the light of day.
I bend or kneel or sit there, in silence and solitude when I really need to focus, and ever so gently keep at it. Patience and perseverance are called for. I need to accept that sometimes there is only so much I can do, and even that I may not do well. In a garden there are many conditions that are ever affecting a plant’s growth; I have little control over most. But I can keep showing up to weed, water and care.
I am trying to be open to new growth this Sojourner Year. I am grateful to be companioning with other Benedictine Sojourners. Along with the sisters we are committed to human development and spiritual transformation; we are tending each other. Good, and challenging…
It is wonderful when those little kale plants can be cleared of the many kinds of weeds covering them up. But oh my, in the process they become so exposed and vulnerable! Seemingly unprotected. I almost grab the dead weeds and cover them up again! Instead I reach for the watering can.
Am I willing to be vulnerable on this journey, open to all that comes, whether comforting or conflictive? When met with confrontation can I let down my defenses which serve me well sometimes but can also stymie new possibility? Am I willing to take responsibility for my being while also letting others have a say in what is good for growth?
Perhaps the only question I really need to hold before me is this: How can I love the other and myself? I am called to trust that God’s love will do the rest.
Postscript: The kale is growing abundantly, being harvested and enjoyed by many at the monastery. The weeds too are plentiful, but are less threatening with the ongoing tender loving care we together give the garden.
View Trish’s previous posts at: http://www.holywisdommonastery.org/category/monastic-life/living-in-community/a-benedictine-sojourners-view/