Working the Soil Unfurls the Soul
by April Thompson
“Gardening is not about having or taking; it’s about giving,” says Connecticut psychotherapist Gunilla Norris, author of A Mystic Garden: Working with Soil, Attending to Soul. “And in giving, the garden gives back to you.” She deems the art of practicing gratitude in the garden as an intentional path for cultivating spirituality.“Every day, go out and thank the ground. Life is burgeoning all around us, all the time,” she continues. “If we can just appreciate that, it’s a big deal.”
It’s hard not be humbled and awed by the miracle of life when we see a seedling push its tiny green head above ground, lean toward the sun and unfurl its first set of leaves. Each bit of plant life is simply fulfilling its mission to grow and be.
“Gardening enhances our relationship to the Earth. Through gardening, we are helping to heal the planet, which is part of the work we are all called to do,” remarks Al Fritsch, a Jesuit priest in Ravenna, Kentucky, and author of the e-book, Spiritual Growth Through Domestic Gardening (free at EarthHealing.info/garden.htm). Over his lifetime, Fritsch has helped turn a parking lot, a section of church lawn and overgrown bottomland all into thriving gardens. In his view, “It gives us a sense of home, roots us in place.”
We can even discover our personal calling through cultivating a garden while gleaning endless spiritual lessons. Here dwells patience and an appreciation for the natural order of things; no fertilizer can force a flower to bloom before its time. Here resides mindfulness as we learn to notice changes in the plants under our care and discern what they need to thrive. Here abides interdependence; we wouldn’t have carrots, corn or cherries without the bats, bird and bees playing in the pollen. In a garden, we naturally accept the cycle of life, death and rebirth as we bid adieu to the joy of seasonal colors and let flowerbeds rest in peace, anticipating their budding and blooming again.
Just as the fruits of growing a garden exceed the doing—the weeding and seeding and countless other tasks—so do the riches of tending a spiritual life surpass the striving. We do well to rejoice in the sacred space created, cherishing every spiritual quality nurtured within and reflected in the divine handiwork. Breathing in the floral perfume carried by the breeze and reveling in the multi-hued textures of living artistry, we celebrate the fact that we too, are playing our part of the natural miracle of life.
Connect with freelance writer April Thompson at AprilWrites.com.