Gardening the Soul

Gardening the Soul


i once had a garden. It was a Victorian cottage garden. It was a small glimpse of paradise for me. Today the Commonplace Book is taking us to the gardening section of my library, a small reminder of those days.

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” Do whatever falls into your hands, in your circle, and in your situation and believe that this is and will be your true work; nothing more from you is required.”

St. Theophan the Recluse, The Spiritual Life-And how to be attuned to it, Number 16, The True Goal of Life

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“That every plant should select only its own colors and forms from the great laboratory of Nature has always seemed to me a very wonderful thing…For instance, the California Poppies, if left to themselves, will take yellow of many resplendent shades for their color, and never vary their cool, gray-green, ted-tipped foilage…” Celia Thaxter, An Island Garden

If we believe in Master Planner we allow Him to decide what shade or character our life produces. Sometimes is a humble cottage. For others, it becomes a great manor.

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“God arranges the lot of each person, and the entire course of the life of each one is also His all-good industry, as is each moment and each meeting.

St. Theophan the Recluse, The Spiritual Life-And how to be attuned to it, Number 16, The True Goal of Life

IMG_9650 2“Put yourself in God’s hands and pray that He will put you in the place that He considers best.”

St. Theophan the Recluse, The Spiritual Life-And how to be attuned to it, Number 16, The True Goal of Life

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It is easy to imagine that our job is to live in an impressive and formidable life. We are all the heroes and heroines of our own life story.

My garden consists of three succulents in a little  Wardian case on my windowsill, along with an orchid and two (?) African violets.

Humbly living the life we are given for Christ is the hardest job we will ever have.

Giving up and Release(ing) my plan is harder than i could have ever imagined. i am happier than i thought possible.

When the goal of life is no longer our happiness, God acts in ways that astound our expectations. Being disabled means i cannot tend a “real” garden, but such grace has come to me in my houseplants.

One African violet has decided that it is not happy in my window. i am allowing it time to recover, but i will probably have to replace it. When i went to buy a new violet i could not find a suitable one and came home with a glorious pink orchid instead. i am trying to learn to leave space in my soul for God to be the Master Gardener.


Just Write

Just Write

My favorite "weeds" Queen Anne's Lace.
My favorite “weeds” Queen Anne’s Lace.

Writing sounds simple enough, until you try it. In my experience writing is like a weed. When I gardened I read gardening books voraciously. I read many descriptions of weeds. My favorite explanation of weeds was by Celia Thaxter who proclaimed a weed, “A plant with a propensity to get itself into the wrong place.” Writing has an overwhelming tendency to show up at the wrong time and the wrong place.

Celia Thaxter in her Island garden painted by her friend Childe Hassam
Celia Thaxter in her Island garden painted by her friend Childe Hassam

This post is number five On Being a Writer from the Online Discussion Group hosted by Kate Motaung.


If I schedule writing time the odds of the words, just pouring out of my brain are not high. I will probably need something to “prime the pump” and get the words flowing. If I am on my way out the door and I will be busy for hours, the words gush out of my mind. Writing seems like a jealous lover, always testing to see if you love him enough to put him first. Despite all the bad analogies, writing can also be cathartic. Learning to live with the free-flow of words and ideas may be challenging, but ultimately worth the effort to negotiate a mutually beneficial treaty of wellbeing.

As so many people have said before, the words seem to come from someplace “other” than the writer’s brain. Writers are not entirely in charge. Prayer is my best help. In everything praying helps, but with writing it helps me to remember that the right words are never going to come from my own ability. Surrender is the difficult route to the most successful writing. Writing can be about letting the words come unbidden. Poetry always comes to me without conscious effort. I only know I have a poem when I have a couple of stanzas in my thoughts. The meter and/or rhyme attracts my attention and I scurry to find a pen before they are gone.

When I make time and allow the words room in my life I am happier and more fulfilled. On a deep level, beyond the words, I know that I am supposed to write. In the end, all I can do is repeat what King David said,” Let the words of my mouth[and keyboard] and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14. Amen.