I have always had a garden. While I have not always found success in my garden I have been enthusiastic about my experiments growing various plants and vegetables. This garden we have behind our house in Harwich has benefited from my many trials and errors in the past. So it pleases me.
But the thing I like best about my garden is the way it calms my spirit. There is something about dirt that settles a soul. Somehow the things you worry most about don’t follow you too far into the garden. It is such a dirty job that as you kneel to weed or or tidy a bed, all the performance anxiety of life seems to melt away. Coaxing life from the earth is always humbling and gratifying. Kneeling is the right way to approach it.
Cape Cod is a very unique place where battered by winds but sheltered by streams. But there is something in this rugged place that breathes with an unmistakable spiritual quality. You cannot sit by the ocean or sail on a pond without being humbled by the winds or the waves. So we learn from nature each day. We feel part of something bigger than our own individual desires or worries. We feel part of something immense and it stills our many voices.
As you enjoy this time of year here are some ideas for how to remember with the psalmist that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. For God has founded it upon the seas.“
1. Seek direction from the wisdom of the earth.
The earth can teach us how to live. For example, scientists have discovered that the trees in a forest connect and support each other through their roots. Evergreen trees send nutrients to deciduous trees when they loose their leaves; deciduous trees return the favor when they get their leaves again.
2. Honor and learn from the traditions of the earth.
For example people in Colonial times had designed ways to live without much waste. They used their table scraps to feed animals. The kitchen fat made candles. The leaves of plants were used to make medicine. Many of these habits are not practical for our lifestyle, but lots of folks on the Cape are striving to leave less waste, and live in greater companionship with Mother Earth. It is a challenge to consider how we might try to leave less of a footprint of waste.
3. Cultivate times of silence.
Listen with your heart to all of creation. It takes time to develop the habit of listening to the earth. When you walk or take a sail or a swim - perhaps you will learn the mood of the water, the feel of the air, the direction of the winds. I hope they offer solace.
When we come to this season with an open heart, God will meet us on the path, in the garden or in the silence.
Enjoy the dawn of summer.