My friend Frances wrote to me about her first experience planting a vegetable garden in her backyard:
I noticed that I have to simplify all the abundance in my life – all the opportunities, the seemingly endless possibilities.
My garden gave me a perfect example of this. We have an abundance of vegetables growing in a small parcel of earth we prepared, removing stones and weeds, adding compost, mulch, fertilizer. Then, in this rich, good soil, we planted turnips, carrots, daikon radishes, lettuce, herbs, tomatillos, eggplant. They all started growing riotously – I couldn’t believe how you could plant seeds and then all this stuff would just come up with abandon. I knew I needed to thin those turnips and carrots – but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I thought maybe they would grow anyway – all of them. I couldn’t bear to take any out, I refused to intentionally rip out a single living thing. After all, isn’t that what seeds are for? I had worked so hard to ready the earth, plant and water the seeds – why should I start tearing things out by the roots? Why should I leave big patches of bare ground? I wanted to give everything in the garden – everything I planted – a chance to grow. Read more
Innovations in medical science provide technologies that digest and analyze astonishing amounts of medical information. Treatments and techniques, elegant in detail, are put to use immediately, seemingly increasing our healing capacities at an unstoppable pace.
And yet, the speed of the human heart remains constant. No matter how small the incision, or how benign the chemotherapy, the human soul will forever ache for time – time to find its way, to step carefully through the garden of impossible choices, to seek the reassuring nourishment of good, honest company.
It’s an unremarkable day, a Sunday, and I pick up the San Francisco Chronicle to read while eating lunch. I find myself engaged with a story of a 12 yr. old girl sold into sex slavery by her auntie. I’m reading it and the sorrow in this story feels like it takes a bite out of my heart. Immediate pain. I don’t even know this young child or her auntie, but I don’t need to. At that moment, I feel her pain, her family’s pain, and I understand how deeply connected I am with everyone, no matter where they are, or who they are. It’s a profound moment and I use it. I make a conscious decision to stay with what I’m feeling and not distract myself, which is to say I do not to abandon myself.
I decide to gather some flowers from the garden and make a little altar for her. Staying with my feelings doesn’t mean I have to make it harder than it already is. I can bring flowers into the room.
I had an accident a week ago at my health club (Laugh. It’s okay. I get the irony.) I, unknowingly, stepped onto a treadmill that was on and moving at a fast clip. Someone had walked away without turning it off. What???
I was suddenly in a free fall tumble trying to grab something, anything, to regain some control of my body. No such luck. When I landed on the floor, one leg was twisted between two treadmills, my head hit the floor and I felt jangled. Everyone jumped off of their machines and a crowd formed with people asking a lot of questions to determine how badly I was hurt. I couldn’t really move for several minutes, but not because anything was broken. Read more
My friend Teresiana once said, “I have a deep and abiding faith that comes and goes.”
People always laugh when they hear it because everyone can relate. We know faith and we know wavering faith. It seems like a contradiction to have faith come and go. Especially a deep and abiding faith. Right? So we conclude we actually don’t have any, or that it’s weak.
Last year I had to foreclose on a piece of income property that, after the mortgage crisis of 2008, was valued at less than fifty percent of what I owed. For several years the income kept dwindling as the expenses were growing and the difference was draining me of everything I’d saved. The creditors were no help at all and I blamed myself for not being smarter about money. I was so filled with shame that I didn’t talk with anyone about it.