Rest for my soul
I am sitting on my porch, my muscles sore in a good way, and a big smile on my face. And dirt under my fingernails. This week I worked (more like played and dawdled) in my garden. Smiling also as I recall yesterday’s conversation with the geese (as they await their gosling’s arrival). They ask about my topic for Sabbath Moment. I tell them I don’t have one. (Which always makes me want to apologize.)
So. I’ll start with what I know. The garden did my heart good, and I needed it.
The permission to pause, and savor the gift of today. The gift of enough.
Because that’s never been easy for me.
And it doesn’t help that we live in a world where it’s frowned upon (discouraged) to give ourselves the permission to find rest and replenishment in the gift of enough.
And I remember, when I once asked my analyst why I was in therapy. He told me it would make me a better gardener.
Gardening can be strong medicine—an elixir that nurtures and shapes the soul. For that reason, it is a tonic seldom taken straight with no ice.
Gardening has a way of seeping into your soul, and one day you find yourself, in the words of poet May Sarton in Plant Dreaming Deep, spending the first half hour of the morning “enjoying the air and watching for miracles.”
That’s the way it happened to me. Gardening does my heart good. It gives me the permission to be here now. Internalizing Jesus’ words (in Matthew), letting me find “rest for my soul”.
With gardening, it is not just about the end results. It’s about the joy and restorative balm in creating. Yes. So, gardening makes me glad to be alive.
Although, we too easily use the metaphor of accomplish, even with rest. We forget to savor. And we project that on to God. I am grateful for this insight from Cole Arthur Riley (This Here Flesh), “And we conflate these idols (doing, busy, pace) with God himself. We become obsessed with the language of how God might ‘uses’ us, never pausing to ask ourselves, What if God doesn’t always want to use you? What if sometimes God just wants to be with you? We’ve become estranged from this idea. We would never articulate it as such, but undergirding much of our concept of calling is the belief that our primary relationship to God is anchored in transaction. God resists this… People think the sabbath is antiquated; I think it will save us from ourselves.”
In my book Soul Gardening, I try to explain to people about the dramatic change in my life. Emphasis upon my life. I had no intention of creating a paradigm or a new seminar on life reconstruction. Truth is, one day, quite by happenstance, I planted a flower.
As the flower grew, I began to feel something come alive in my own skin. I would go out at weird hours of the day and night, just to fuss over the flower. I dug in the dirt to the let flower breathe. I planted other flowers to give the flower friends. And I surprised myself by crying when one of the flowers died for no apparent reason.
I caught myself humming odd melodies from my childhood, blushing, wondering if anyone heard me. As the flowers continued to grow, I took a chair out and sat in the garden just to keep them company. I would tell the flowers funny stories and laugh out loud into the evening sky. A strange grin spread across my face as I realized what was happening. I felt at home.
The months went on. I planted more flowers. I planted vegetables and trees. I brought guests to my garden just to see them smile.
I watched my garden grow, I fussed and frittered. I dug and danced. I came face to face with a part of myself that had been missing. And I liked what I saw.
With the gift of grace, there is no check list, save allowing the healing places to work their magic. If I’m only focused only on the payoff (destination), I miss the gifts on the journey…
I miss the gift of enough.
The garden put me in a frame of mind where I could hear and see and feel again, as if some part of me that had ossified came back to life. I cannot say with certainty that I heard God’s voice (for I’m not sure what that voice would sound like were I to hear it), but I suspect that God was the one who planted the seed to begin with, and was watching over me while that seed took root. For in the garden I found, in the words of Quaker teacher Thomas Kelly in A Testament of Devotion, the “amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice.”
Sitting in the garden, the Shasta Daisy would care less about my pedigree, which in turn serves as the perfect metaphor for God’s grace – an altogether difficult lesson to swallow in a world where all of our encounters seem like contests, where only the winner is granted the right to move on.
And I miss the gift of wonder. The ordinary the hiding place for the holy. “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” Thích Nhất Hạnh
Find rest for your soul in your “garden” this week—plants, art, quilting writing, walking, pets, reading, cooking, (fill in the blank…).
Our new word this week: “Pelé” has been added to the Portuguese edition of the Michaelis dictionary to describe “someone out of the ordinary.”
On the pond, Momma Mallard with her new paddlings of ducklings. An even dozen. My Oh My.
And Rabbi Harold Kushner died on Friday while in hospice care. His writing has always been for me a source of affirmation and encouragement. He never strayed from answering life’s most vexing questions about loss, goodness and God, and by doing so, brought comfort to people across the world. He was 88. Rest in peace.
Quote for our week…
“We teach children how to measure and how to weigh. We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe.” Harold S. Kushner
Today’s Photo Credit: A picture from my garden on Vashon Island. A place to breathe–garden sanctuary. Thank you to all, keep sending your photos… send to terryhershey.com
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Letters that do my heart good…
–We are the sheep, Terry! We who look forward to hearing from you every day and who look forward to eventually meeting the Good Shepherd as you keep us in check along our journey. I’m not suggesting you are like Jesus but you do a great job of keeping us aware of His message. My church has suggested we all Live Love and whatever that entails. Being broken lets the light in as well as letting it shine for others to see. T
–I love this one! It is my favorite post so far. It resonated with me clear down to the depths of my heart. I have been gullible my whole life. My dad used to get mad at me because he was afraid my gullibility would cause me to get hurt, or even killed. And I did get hurt from time to time. But the risk was worth it, because, sometimes, I didn’t! And I’d rather be soft and and vulnerable than safe and impenetrable. Now I’m 78 years old, and am engaged in a situation that could turn out painfully, but being wary is not my calling. Being God’s love in the world is! It’s God’s job to take care of me when I’m doing what He calls me to do. So sometimes, we softies get hurt! It keeps us close to the foot of the Throne, the best place in the universe to be. Thank you, Terry! I love your heart. Rita
–Hello Terry Thank you for Willie, (who I met in the 1980’s because of his Farm Aid Concerts and I was staffing the Nebraska Farm Crisis Hotline), Mr Rogers (whose homeland became mine for five years-Pittsburg) and Martin Burber. At 83, I’m experiencing limited mobility. One of my favorite activities is grocery shopping with the electronic carts. I try to keep myself open to any encounter, be it seconds or minutes long. That’s I met Jose, who swept up the blueberries I had spilled all over the place. And Betsy whose check out counter I always try to go to because she always has something positive to say. Or a child in another playing beep-o-boo, a customer directing me to the right aisle for my needs, or just to smile and nod. As the slow moving Contemplative Sloth, from my ‘take things slow and savor the moment point-of-view, I see everyone is in a hurry to get their groceries and get home. I remember those days of hyperactivity out of necessity. How rich it is to not be in a hurry and to savor the moments. To be present to whatever or whoever crosses my path. Blessing on all you do and write, Judy
–Thank you Very Much for today’s reflection. I, too, am a Mr. Roger’s fan and for the very reasons you mention. I also find myself lost and feeling my worst when I lose touch with my humanity. The angry voices around us are quite persistent in their unkindness. It’s up to us to counter those voices with our Presence to one another. Presence… what God has always hoped we’d offer one another. Thank you, Terry! Mary
POEMS AND PRAYERS
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” May Sarton
Loaves and Fishes
This is not
the age of information.
This is not
the age of information.
Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.
This is the time of loaves
People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.
Let this be our prayer for the world…
Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Rabbi Harold Kushner