Monday, 23 April 2007


Until recently, I have never thought of myself as a gardener.
In the way that I automatically understand the word, I am not a gardener: I have never been a gardener; and yet, more than almost anything else, I love spending time in my garden, and that enjoyment comes, in part, from doing and having done those things which make it the place that it is.
I have become increasingly aware that what I have been doing is gardening in one of its pure forms.
I have never spent time creating a wonderful array of variety and colour: filling flower beds with what, for me, represents hours of devotion in the form of propagation, nurturing and weeding, resulting from a consistently maintained focus on the resulting display.

My appreciation of such things has waned from something never particularly obvious, to an unresponsive reaction summed up in the simple question, “Why?”
It is not that I can see no point to any of the labour required to create such beauty; it is that I do not see the result as a form of beauty high enough to warrant the necessary dedication to its realization. That level of organization and neatness, contrived diversity, and density of population can so easily create in me a form of urban suffocation. In spite of the possibility of finding no other human presence in such surroundings, and despite the undeniable loveliness of almost every individual flower in creation, I can feel buried under my awareness of the human activity involved in this form of creation.

I see that way of gardening as being similar to the placing of substantial value upon such superficial things as cosmetics, and the ephemeral waste that is the fact behind such fictions as the world of ‘fashion’. The gardener within us has been drawn into the generation of artificial needs and desires that fuel the supposed civilization of today’s high speed and value-warping world.
The persuasiveness of publicity and advertising, and the greed of business and commerce, have seduced each other into a marriage bed that spawns an ever increasing destruction of the values and the integrity of being truly human.

There is a power for good in all this activity: great and beneficial things are also conjured from today’s seething mass of potential, but so many of us are becoming all but lost in our inability to resist our susceptibility to the bright, the loud and the colourful.
This apparent inability encourages an ever increasing intensity of promotion of those things we do not need but are unable to do without.
Conversely, a garden has the power to keep us in touch with things we truly do need, but which, for most of the time, we believe we can manage without.

Deep within, I am as much a gardener as the person who spends eight or ten hours of every day producing and maintaining his flower beds and manicured lawns; but most of my hours are spent appreciating my ground rather than having to strive endlessly to maintain its image.
I allow nature to make most of the decisions, and recently this was brought home to me when I realized how the whole layout and feel of my garden has been governed by such things as the way a tree has fallen to the ground, or the seemingly random growth of unsuspected plants that nature has provided. There are shrubs and climbers which have been bought and planted near the house, but more than anything else, I have simply controlled what nature herself has decided to do.

The wonder of being in my own garden is similar to, but is more than, the pleasure derived from the countryside with its wildlife, the fresh air, and the quiet. It is the comfort of being in familiar surroundings which are known and absorbed in the same way that I am absorbed into them: the peace and quiet joy of being truly home in a safe haven, where heart and soul sense their true belonging, and where my awareness of God walking with me can flourish.

The sensation of being close to God in a garden, is a blend of the private and intimate nature of our safe haven, with the work we have put into its formation, and with the reality of His presence with us in all places and at all times.
It is a distant echo of the gardener and his God together in Eden.
It is a powerful hint at the reality of His being our greatest, closest, and most trustworthy friend.

For me, the following words of George Eliot are a fitting description of the way God’s presence in our gardens can be experienced.

It also describes part of the sensation I experience when approaching the edge, and which led me to the heading under which I attempt to convey these thoughts: - ‘Soliloquy at the very edge …’

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
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