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Growing Life

I have had a “dry spell” in my writing – a time when my metaphoric pen ran out of ink, and I couldn’t replenish it. My ideas were all focused on family needs and transitions, my counseling practice, and more recently, learning the personally and professionally exciting field of neuroplasticity, how the brain changes itself, and how that can be applied to eliminating persistent pain.

Now my thoughts and desires turn, again, to the traditional preoccupations of spring. I am planting my garden, choosing plant starts and seeds, following the sun through the day to see where it lingers most, and planning where each plant will (hopefully!) be able to grow and produce its vegetables, fruit, or flowers.

With any physical enterprise, I usually need help. Heavy digging of our clay soil and pulling of weeds, clearing underbrush, and taking out deeply rooted unproductive or dead plants, is not safe for my precariously balanced physical structure. I am fortunate indeed to have my husband Steven, who is willing to partner with me in this endeavor. This year he is recovering from a knee replacement, and so we also asked our neighbor’s gardener to do some of the heaviest work for us.

Now it is my turn. I buy soil amendment and plants and seeds, direct the placing of compost, and finally get my turn to put my hands into the soil itself. I love to do the lighter digging of prepared soil, plant the seeds and starts, and water them. It’s fun to figure out what needs to climb up a cage or which vine will need a support to twirl around as it grows, then find the ones I used last year or the year before, and use them again. I pulled the wisteria back where it shaded my vegetable bed in the front of the house, and tied it onto the fence rail so the tomato and beans I planted would get more sun.

As I work in my garden, I am growing hope. Each plant and seed contains the potential to become large, lush, beautiful, and delicious. I am growing nourishment, of the body and the spirit. I am growing pleasure, mine as I engage all my senses to see, touch, smell the plants, hear the spray as I water them, and ultimately taste the fruits of our labor. Pleasure is shared with my family as we watch the growth, anticipate the wonderful food we will make and share further with our friends, and the beautiful flowers we will enjoy all summer long.

Weather is unpredictable. There are times of rain and times of dryness. I hardly noticed that my writing was drying up, but when I did, I prayed for rain. And then I waited…

Somehow I didn’t notice that even in the dry time, seeds were forming and dropping into the dark, conserving their energy and potential to grow, and getting ready.

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