Pardon my absence. I’ve been using springtime as an opportunity to sprout; to push through a thick layer of earth and reach toward the sky in hopes that I will develop flowers. It’s been lovely, really. And more challenging than I ever imagined.
My work and my personal life have been stretching me in ways I never thought possible. Which is what it takes to bloom, I think. No. I believe it. Because it has been those times in my life when I have gathered everything I thought I could possibly have in myself to achieve what I never thought possible, only to find out that I had that much and more.
I learned how to blossom from an early age- watching my mother dig (literally and figuratively) to make plots of abundance out of very little. The soil was often rough and the tools were frequently rusty, but she tended her family garden with courage, wisdom, grace, and, often, pure stubbornness. I’ll always love my mother for that. Out of adversity and challenge grew a plentiful crop of goodness.
As a kid, I fought against all it took to make a garden grow. Chores were a drag. I didn’t understand that tending the garden by weeding and mulching and loving unconditionally was what made the veggies so delicious and the berries so sweet. I only knew that I wanted the end result without all of the work. I keenly remember the taste of the bright orange carrots picked fresh from the soil when I wanted a snack and was kicked out of the kitchen. My memory is ripe with images of the raspberries I picked for my morning cereal, our trusty dog at my side. And yet I hold the distinct memory of rolling my eyes and stomping my feet when I was given the chore of weeding row after row in our vegetable garden- thinking that my time was far better spent hiding out in front of the basement television watching the fuzzy re-runs of Charlie’s Angels or Eight is Enough.
Jumping forward to the present, I love every part of gardening. I especially love to get down and dirty, bare feet touching the earth as I squat over the vast expanse of luscious soil, searching for another space to tend. I adore the process of watching something grow from seed to plant, unfurling into fullness. I like knowing where my food comes from and witnessing the seeming miracle of nature’s bounty. And mostly, I enjoy the memories that come from placing my body near the earth.
Every time I step foot on the earth, my senses come alive, and I remember that I am part of something so much larger than myself. I honor my roots, and experience what can only be described as full body sensory memory where my toes spread out, my skin tingles, my nostrils engage, and my eyes take in the world as brighter and more expansive.
Plants often need to go through challenging times to blossom; winter, drought, a harsh pruning. These experiences are sometimes the very things that provide what it takes for a plant to pull up what is necessary to push forward a bloom. And that’s life. Harshness can be just harshness, sure. Pain and suffering can be terrible and debilitating, yes. But sometimes it’s these times of challenge that provide the environment for shiny new growth.