I am not a very tidy gardener. That’s a nice way of saying my garden is often a wild mess. To be fair, I really do love the gardens that are more on the wild side, with lot of flowers, filling up every available space, but it can get out of control. About five years ago when I had some moving guys come to help me move furniture in a week when I hadn’t gotten to mow the lawn for a while because of rain, one of the moving guys looked around the yard and said, “Is that the look you are going for?”
When I first began gardening I pored over English Garden books and I wanted to emulate those massive perennial beds. But I forgot two things. I don’t live in England, and I don’t have a gardener.
And, to make matters even messier I had woodchuck issues with my backyard vegetable garden so I moved all my vegetables into my front flower garden. So it is now is a riot of flowers, and vines and vegetables. And I travel for work. So, I manage to get it in in the spring, and maybe weeded once. And that’s it. The garden is off and running and so am I. I basically don’t touch it again until I start over again in the spring.
But not being tidy had its benefits this week. We had a huge snowstorm and all of the seedheads of my flowers and vines and shrubs which looked awful and messy before the storm were all that you could see after the storm. And while I shoveled, my garden was visited constantly by Sparrows and Junkos and Chickadees. What I called messy, they called lunch.
I can waste a lot of energy on garden shame. Worrying that I really should do something about it. I can waste a lot of time on shame period. But yesterday was such a clear of example of how that kind of judgment is so misplaced. Watching those birds yesterday made me think that worrying about how things look would have been the wrong decision by a mile for those birds.
Healing doesn’t happen in a linear form. It happens in cycles the way our year happens in seasons. The parts of the cycle of healing are as interconnected as our seasons. You heal as much as you can and you move to another part of the cycle and you leave some things behind because you are pulled to the next phase of healing, and you leave some things behind because you aren’t ready yet to work with them yet. Both are always true.
And really, it’s all there all the time. It’s just that your attention has moved from one thing to another. The things you still need to work on can be out of your attention, but so can your strengths that you used to work on those things. And then something triggers your attention and you find them again, the way the birds found the flower seeds in the middle of winter. And what about the things you can’t see right now, even if you search? They are still there. The snow has covered everything else but the tops of the flowers, but the roots and bulbs are still there. They are being nourished and fed by this season. And they will bloom in their own.
© Gretchen L. Schmelzer, PhD 2015