My blogger friend Glynn over at Faith, Fiction, Friends, is reading God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us by L.L. Barkat. In one of the exercises, L.L. Barkat suggests writing your life out as if you are your garden.
Cool idea, I thought.
I read what Glynn wrote and was in awe. Wow. This is one deep and clear guy.
What does my garden say about me, I wondered.
Ahhhh. Well. first off -- I'm not much of a gardener. Love beautiful gardens but I grew up in a house where gardening was not the norm. Other people did the work and once, when I attempted to pull weeds, the gardening dude asked me to stop -- apparently, the rest of the world can identify weeds from plants without uprooting everything.
Must be why I identify with Dandelions. They just need a really good PR job and the world would see their worth in whole different ways.
I don't have a garden. I have a yard. A big one by inner city standards. And it is grass and trees. What some would call the flower beds have been left to variegated leafy vine heaven. Under the weeping birch a wicker love seat and chair sit, an open invitation to passers-by to come and sit a spell beneath the trees welcoming shade.
In the back yard, chaos edges up against time given over to run wild. We have a team of handsome dudes, and sometimes scantily clad young lasses, who come and move and trim and the rest is pretty well left up to nature. I don't like interfering with nature's course -- and justify the casual look of the backyard with my belief -- the birds and bees like it that way.
What I do have in the backyard is a reflection of my nature. Along one wall of the garage I've put arched wrought iron trellis' with carved leaves where hops serpentine up in leafy frolic. I did plant Iris bulbs and crocus at their bases but the squirrels dug them all up and feasted on them. There's a lion's head fountain and a big metal sun on the wall as well. the fountain spews and the sun smiles and all is well on my wall.
The apple tree is adorned with a glass mermaid sculpture that hangs suspended from one branch and a couple of birdfeeders and tiny wooden bird houses and a couple of my favourite sayings painted on pottery and wood that hang around, casting wisdom amongst the leaves. The whole yard is encompassed in a six ft high hedge and Ellie, the wonder pooch, has the run of it all.
My yard is unpredictable, disorganized, somewhat cluttered in a couple of spaces where the lawn furniture still awaits summer -- one day soon I'm sure! Like summer I live with the motto 'some day soon', I'll get to it.
I'm sure it's a reflection of me. I don't like doing anything I don't do well -- from the get go -- and I don't know enough about gardening to do it well -- and I have enough things demanding my time I don't commit to the yard because.... I'd have to give up something else I love and know how to do -- like write or paint or take Ellie for long walks.
and really, this post isn't about my garden where I feel helpless.
It's about aspects of my life where I feel helpless today. Ellie has been sick for a week and finally, after several hundreds of dollars, too many tests and pokes and prods, she seems to have turned the corner this morning. I was terrified it was cancer -- and didn't want to know -- all in the same breath. She doesn't have cancer -- just something she ate, which given she is a garbage hound, it's amazing she's gotten nine years without getting sick over something she's eaten before!
I didn't go to my meditation group last night though, because Ellie had spent the day alone and I didn't want to leave her for the evening.
And then I discovered why I didn't go.
I got a phone call from my daughter, Liseanne's, boyfriend. Liseanne had tried to call me earlier in the day (I noticed but when I called back there was no answer). She's at school in the Netherlands and we try to talk a few times a week so I wasn't too concerned when I missed her. I had forgotten my cell phone at home so she couldn't have reached me anyway.
When Ryan (the boyfriend) called, I asked him if he was excited. He leaves to meet up with Lele in Amsterdam next week. "Yes, but I have some not so great news.... Lele is in hospital."
Um.... 5,000 miles, a continent and an ocean separate me from my baby and she is in hospital. She had a seizure. They don't know why. They don't know what. They don't really know much.
I have since spoken with the nurse on the ward as well as Liseanne this morning and she is 'okay'. "Don't stress out over what we don't know," she told me after I told her I'd been checking flights and could be there by tomorrow. "There's no need for you to come. I'm okay."
Thing is. she is. Okay. And whatever is going on will be discovered -- with or without me there. And once we know what it is, then I can make decisions. Not before, she reminded me.
She sounded like me. Let's find out what it is before we leap to conclusions or into ill-advised or untimely action -- I'd said those words when she was a five year old and the doctor informed me she had Lupus. I didn't believe him -- and sure enough, once they'd rechecked the results form her tests, it was discovered a decimal point had been put in the wrong place and given them a false reading on paper.
I'd said those words when they told me she had 'syringamyalia' and she kept going for MRIs every few months. I didn't want my child to believe herself to be 'sick'. She might have a condition, but it didn't make her disabled or sick or other than. It was the condition that was unwelcome. She was and is a miraculous human being.
And still I feel helpless.
My garden this morning consoled me. I lay in bed and watched the birds twitter around the feeders. Dip into the copper birdbath that sits beneath the tree. It consoled me to hear the water trickling from the lion's mouth, to watch a bird sit on the fountain's edge and dip into the well.
It consoled me to simply watch nature be what it is without having to be anything other than what it is.
I can't change nature. I can't change whatever is going on within my daughter's brain. What I can change is how I go through my day -- stressed out or accepting of what is, knowing, I have the courage, the strength, the fortitude to deal with whatever comes my way.
And knowing -- my daughter is in good hands. She doesn't need my stressed out calling for reassurance every five minutes. She needs my strength, my courage, my love. She needs me to be calm so that any decisions we make are based on the right thing to do, not a reaction to what isn't going right with me acting out to make something happen to make me feel alright.
And so it is.
the way it is.
the only way it can be
when I let go of fear
and move with grace and ease
all is well with my soul
when I am well within me
letting nature run its course
as I run back to the One
who is the One within
and without Me.
I'll be okay, my daughter said.
I know she will.
I breathe and remind myself -- I can't control the world, only how I move within it.
and this is only fear -- and fear is the opportunity to be courageous. It isn't about me. It's about what can I do for my daughter to help her embrace her strength and courage, her beauty and wisdom.