Gardens can teach us many lessons about ourselves. There is a visionary quality to being a gardener, that when developed, can bring unexpected health benefits for both the land and ourselves.
In her article, “Gardening’s surprising health benefits”, Shelley Sparks shares a powerful story about a woman who, after suffering two strokes, was left seriously disabled and in a wheelchair. Yet when Sparks met her some time later she was fully mobile. She asked the woman how this happened. “She told me that her first stroke had paralyzed her. One day, when looking out of window, she noticed the empty lot next to her house was an unsightly mess – overgrown with weeds and debris. The woman wondered if, by rehabilitating the plot of land she might be able to rehabilitate herself. Every day she crawled around the lot on her hands and knees, pulling weeds and putting bagging the debris. At first, she needed help from her grandchildren. She persisted valiantly for two years to clear the lot, and slowly but surely, they both improved. Her doctors were in shock as they watched her return to full mobility.” This woman saw the potential for restoration to wholeness, not only for the plot of land, but also for herself.
In like manner, we don’t have to accept that things are hopeless and unchangeable, whether it is with our health or any other aspect of our lives.
This is one of the lessons nature teaches us. A tiny seed carries within itself a beautiful flower; it only needs the right conditions to blossom. Bare trees in winter that look dead to the inexperienced eye, bloom every spring. In a way, every seed and every spring is a revelation – showing us what is inherent within.
Spiritual thinkers have always seen the assurance of ever-present life as a reflection of the Divine. The Jewish prophet Isaiah, write about this promise of life when he wrote, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.” (Isaiah 35:1 NIV translation.)
To me, what the prophet was saying is that when we feel close to God, we see life differently – more abundantly. This inspired vision brings healing into our lives. Instead of habitually seeing ourselves as incomplete and lacking, or our situation an beyond hope, we can recognise the complete seed within, that when cultivated, will blossom.
Learning to look beyond the limited human picture and to recognize the reflection of the Divine in our lives brings hope, that leads to a sense of completeness. Like the woman who did not give up her gardening project, and found freedom from her physical restraints, we too can daily cultivate a truer, better sense of ourselves and others.It is a continual spiritual gardening.