The Good Weather Church

Blue sky with white puffy clouds over a rural church with autumn leaves in the fore band backgrounds

Wandering through Christianity, Buddhism, and Unity to my current interest of studying the Tao, I long ago exchanged organized religion for a more profound spirituality. Structured religion gave me a moral and ethical compass for living life. Eastern philosophies expanded my understanding. But, my spirituality deepened after a life altering illness, decades of consciously working in the garden, and a burgeoning sense of gratitude.


“Religion…shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude…in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.”

“…In order to usefully interpret the realm of common, shared experience and history, we must each make certain “over-beliefs” in things which, while they cannot be proven on the basis of experience, help us to live fuller and better lives.”                   — William James


Discovering this naturally created pulpit and pews on my visit to Scotland this summer was a curious surprise.

I imagined listening to a sermon among these bluest of skies, lush green mountains and clear waters. The pastor wouldn’t have to speak a word.

Blessed with three good weather seasons, I’m most often in the garden — seeding, nurturing, harvesting — plants, but also my thoughts and spirit.

For me, attending church is gliding over morning dew glistened grass to the vegetable patch or flower garden…feeling the warming sun on my skin and a serene sky’s embrace. Hearing “the quiet.” At first. And then the hum of bees, chirping birds, and steady rhythm of high-pitched crickets uniting in choir.  Sweet nature gloriously sings a sermon to my soul.

Feature photo by Damian Markutt on Unsplash

 

Good Morning Mother Nature

One of my favorite morning activities is walking through the garden discovering what’s bloomed then cutting a basket full of flowers to become a bouquet.  Focusing solely on colors, textures and scents quiets my mind while the warming sun and cooling breeze brushing my skin soothes my HSP spirit.

Mother Nature offers this gentle good morning to anyone taking time to appreciate her splendid gifts.  Try meditating while creating a morning bouquet and see how you feel.  Refreshed?  Focused?  Rewarded?  At peace?  Grateful?

 

A bit overly ambitious this morning, I now have three bouquets to grace my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.   How I love this time of year!

 

 

A garden then and now…

No surprise to me, this inspirational sentiment about a garden’s virtues.  What is surprising though, is that it was written by the Persian poet Saadi who lived more than 700 years ago.  Can you imagine the beauty he beheld then, before industry dominated our planet?  If I find a garden breathtaking now, I wonder what it was like for Saadi to see?  Could it have been even more beautiful…more uplifting, more astonishing than the way it fills my heart now?

 

Digging with Orphans in the Garden

Digging in the dirt…unearthing rocks, weeds, my thoughts turn to life’s struggles…times my heart was breaking and I did not see a way out, a reasonable solution, how to get past the pain of the moment.  Not knowing what else to do, I dug in the dirt.  I weeded.  I carried rocks.  Pails of small ones, and wheelbarrows of large ones until I ached.  Ached so bad I could barely sleep but went back out and did it all over again the next day.  And the next.

Unable to remove the boulder that was there, and would always be there like unresolved abysmal hurt, I tried to conceal it.  Find a way around it.  Moving on, I cultivated the impermeable soil to breathe and grow while filling my thoughts with affirmations and new perspectives.  Taking time to nurture nature, nature began nurturing me.

vince-fleming-613819-unsplash
Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

If you’ve ever felt dishonored or abandoned, turn to nature.  Love her.  Honor her.  Nurture her to soothe the soul.  She is always there for you.

 

 

 

Take orphans — or any neglected children — into the garden.  Create.  Nurture.  Love.  Watch them grow.

 

hand-apple-nature-seed-finger-food-650474-pxhere.com

Featured black/white photo (original in color) by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash.

Mother Nature’s Midlife Crisis

Dear Mother Nature,

Are you not feeling well?  I’m wondering if you’re going through “the change” offering an unsettling summer and surprising autumn.  And how ’bout the Nor’easter that cancelled St. Patty’s Day parades earlier this year?

Was it night sweats or hot flashes that made our summer uncharacteristically rainy and humid?  Or when you swooshed 81 degree night air through my moon roof late September, and 70 degree temps on Manhattan’s sidewalks the first week of November that plummeted to 20 degrees only days later?

Generations debated your behavior for over 200 years and I’m just as perplexed.  Legions of soft leaves fell to the ground this summer amidst dizzying dog day temps.  Itchy allergy season never ceased.  Cucumber plants still loaded with blossoms in October bore no fruit, and tomatoes waited til autumn to ripen this year.  Harvest was askew.  Were you tired and sleeping late?

img_3670 October Tomatoes
unripened tomatoes on my windowsill

I understand if anxiety and depression are over-shadowing your concentration.  It’s heartbreaking to watch people cast you aside like a battered wife while others honor and try to protect you.  Perhaps your irritability is simply fighting back the only way you know how — launching hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and floods, one right after the other.

It may comfort you to know your panic attacks are gaining attention.  A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll reported that weather tragedies recruited more believers in climate change.

october 2017 roses and pine needlesContemplating the paradox of pink roses with fallen pine needles and burgundy hardy mums, I wonder if you’ve misplaced your date book…are the changing seasons of my homeland lost with your youth — and mine?

Decades ago, I grew up with four distinctive seasons.  Spring was spring; flowers bloomed, birds chirped, lighter coats replaced heavy wool.  Summer felt hot; fans whirred and fireflies dotted nighttime skies.  Walking on crunchy leaves in crisp autumn mornings transformed to warming hands around glowing bonfires.  Winter’s beauty was in its starkness and alluring silence from newly fallen snow.  Those were my reliable seasons until your mood swings took control.  If you’re going to go through “the change,” do you think you could relax into year-round, sunny blue skies and 70 degree temps?

10-30-17 009 blue sky

Are you observing changes in your own environment, like erratic temperatures this year?   What do you think is happening with Mother Nature?

Daily Prompt: Gratitude

I didn’t think much about gratitude while growing up.  Actually, I’d say I was pretty ungrateful in those years.  Raised in a dysfunctional family — although I didn’t know that’s what it was then, just that my father would rage at a moment’s notice — we often ran for our lives.  Literally.  It wasn’t until I married a man in a 12-step program that I considered the word gratitude.

While my new husband’s recovery from prescription painkillers opened the Al-Anon door for me,  I couldn’t relate to others struggling with loved ones’ active addictions because my husband already had three drug-free years when we met.  In times of angst, I turned to gardening but it couldn’t eradicate a darkness I felt deep within.  And then I found a different 12-step meeting — ACOA.  For the first time in my life I felt I belonged, and tasted true fellowship.

interconnect-2117782_1280

Listening to others traumas from similar or worse upbringings lessened the impact of my own.  I now realized my family wasn’t the only one that didn’t look like Norman Rockwell Freedom from Want or Freedom from Fear paintings.  Feeling safe and unjudged, I unveiled the shame that overshadowed three decades of my life.  I now understood my father as a rageaholic and how this ill-affected our family.  (This is the early 1990’s before recovery became a buzzword and rehabs became multi-million dollar businesses.)

Twelve Step meetings — of any kind — frequently discuss gratitude and suggest keeping a gratitude journal to heal the spirit.  My gratitude can be as simple as I’m grateful the sun is shining, for the joy my dog gives to me, or for my eyes to see the beauty around me.  It is a daily prompt in my thoughts illuminating my heart.

A gift of the Twelve Steps is learning to live life instead of just surviving,  existing,  staying sober or stopping an addiction.  Hearing someone share, “I was so busy looking at the thorns that I didn’t see the rose,” changed my life forevermore.  I now look for gifts in unanticipated circumstances rather than see challenges as problems.   The more I became grateful, the more I’ve had to be grateful for.

A few more decades later, I’m still evolving and learning other shades of gratitude.  I’ve come to realize and feel grateful that the darkness of my youth led me to 12-step recovery.  The Twelve Steps expanded my spirituality and lessened my fears to try new things and be who I really am.  I evolved to become passionate about hand drumming which led to my interest in the Tao.  My understanding of the Tao and life grows through gardening.  Coming full circle, I more fully understand and am grateful for all the layers of my life.  As my 12-step friend once told me, “The gift is as great as the pain.”

 

 

Who’s to Say?

Sometimes things don’t work out as we planned.  Sometimes, oftentimes, gifts appear in unexpected places or they don’t look like what we envisioned.  We think it should be something else and too quickly pass it by.

10-15-17 045 Moms cat

When I was very young — about five or six, I desperately wanted a kitten. What kid doesn’t at that age?  For my seventh birthday my Mom gave me a white fluffy cat with wide-surprise eyes curled up in its three-inch green basket.   Yes, I said “three-inch” basket.  It was a tiny tchotchke.  Feeling terribly disappointed, I didn’t understand my Mom’s cat allergy.  Decades later, I still have that tiny memento; its white fur deteriorated with time.

 

This week I nearly trampled over a viola.  How odd, I thought, that it jumped from the flower pot to the other side of the sidewalk.  Oftentimes, I’ve planted something in one place only to have it pop up somewhere else like the mound of irises that left the garden plot to live on the pond bank.  Who’s to say they were better off in the garden? Who’s to say a gift is not a gift?  I don’t dismiss things so easily anymore.10-15-17 031 blue viola

Have you ever had your heart set on something but too quickly passed off what was presented because it did not look the way you thought it should?  Please do tell.