Moving Meditations

Our household has just experienced the biggest rite of passage we have seen in years: sending our firstborn twin daughters off to college. Even though I cried for a full day after finding out I was having two babies instead of one, they have brought heaps of light and cheer to our family from the moment we welcomed them into this world. However, we are still raising two boys that we homeschool, although this doesn’t mean we are home with them that much. We farm a lot of things out: an outdoor tutorial; swimming and rock climbing; piano, violin, guitar, AND bagpipe lessons; boys’ choir and youth symphony … you may be questioning our sanity at this point. And although I have many more responsibilities, such as this small business and 4 (soon to be 5) short term vacation rentals, I catch myself lately staring at the wall, wandering, or scrolling.

pruning my dahlias

One things that grounds me is gardening. I'm not the best at it--I often let the weeds get too thick, I am forced to enter the heat and drag a sprinkler out. I keep hoping that it will rain, that someone will take it upon themselves to weed, but it's just so much magical thinking. But there is something about caring for these living things that is akin to a moving meditation. I succumb to their needs and tend them. In the process, I almost always wind up with a case of poison ivy, and I definitely, absolutely, always, 100% of the time SWEAT!

I hate sweating, and nothing makes me quite as angry as being hot. I find myself in this situation often because I procrastinate, but the inevitable eventually drags me by the hair of my guilty conscience, out of my hot-weather hibernation and into one of many stages of summer in the South: “Hell’s Front Porch,“ as I‘ve recently heard it described. If you know, you know.

Working in this heat, however, changes something inside of me. I become calmer, toxins leave my body in the form of sweat, tears, and cuss words. I become more regulated. This moving meditation has no visible zen. But, the calm comes eventually and stays for the day.

I continued to garden when I had chemo a few years ago. In fact, that was my most ambitious garden. I needed to watch something thrive, and I literally missed a chance to eat a few homegrown artichokes merely for the beauty of watching them bloom. It was magical and restorative.

And now, I return to my struggling garden for therapy, to the flowers that are mine to plant, water, and grow. I leave you with a link to a David Wilcox concert from 2014. He asked for an audience member to come onstage and provide a piece of personal context, a little problem, so he could write a song on the spot. I obliged. Though I cannot bear to listen to it right now, perhaps you would like to hear how I've struggled with my garden, all the while cultivating something much deeper.

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