I was teaching a Mental Health First Aid certification course, this weekend, when I got into a lunch conversation about gardening and canning fruits and vegetables. One of the participants was an avid gardener who told me that she was often chastized for the work it took to create and maintain a garden and can your own food. Other people at the table were also gardeners (on a smaller level), and the conversation turned positive. They indicated that they have noticed that in today’s world, gardening is making a comeback for many reasons. Then, I was asked, “Why did you start gardening?”
Well, I come from a large family where I was the oldest of my siblings. My mother had a small garden, and I was the only one mesmerized, from an early age, with the idea that we can work this piece of dirt, plant a seed or two, and somethng amazing grows. From that plant, we can be nourished. During my youth, as I heard the biblical stories of Creation, I automatically equated Mom’s little garden to how God created man in a garden. Since then, I have always tended a garden of some semblence.
I guess you can call my garden, “My Happy Place.” It’s my stress reliever, my exercise, my place of silence and peace, my shared experience with my family and friends who have become part of our family, and my place of shared creation. It is my outdoor place where I can be still and pray or meditate or just breathe and listen to the sounds around me. We also use the garden as the backdrop for outdoor activities and gatherings and as a place to teach others about growth, health, food, and canning. As the space develops into something more and more beautiful, we will use it for more… or less… depending on what our needs or calling might be.
To me, my garden depicts life in all of its beauty. It has strengths and weaknesses which are influenced by the environment and the people it encounters. My gardens have experienced some disasters (like last year’s wide-spread blossom-end rot) which have taught me some resiliency skills, as well as some patience. Each time, though, the garden and I have bounced back and remained alive and kicking. Overall, like life, the garden provides many more positive things than negative, and it always bounces back to being a productive life. It symbolizes the life cycle and how, if nurtured, a life can and will thrive. My gardens give me more than plants and food: My gardens provide feelings of hope and faith, and well…
…isn’t that everything?