Garden – a metaphor for life
Barbara Schultze September 27, 2020

2020 is certainly a year I will never forget. This year has allowed me an unusual amount of time for reflection and contemplation amongst all the difficulties and uncertainties that we have faced on a global scale.

Last week I was at my community garden harvesting some of my fall crops. My 7-year-old granddaughter was there enjoying the simplicity of nature… catching ladybugs and grasshoppers. While I was busy cleaning up some of the garden beds, she decided she wanted to pull some carrots. I was taken back by her excitement every time she pulled one out of the ground, and after pulling each one out she intently studied them.  She then turned and said to me “this time of year makes me a little bit sad”. I was surprised by her comment and I asked her “Why does it make you sad?”.  Her answer was “because everything dies, and that makes me sad because I won’t see it again”.  I told her that’s what the seeds are for. Nature has a way of making sure that life keeps going and that there is a plan that we don’t always see right away, we just need to recognize where the seeds are, plant them at the right time and then feed them. 

The seeds in the photo above are parsnip seeds that have been reseeding in my garden for the last number of years. I don’t remember what kind they were; they just keep coming back year after year.  When the seeds are ready, they just drop to the ground and wait under the snow until spring comes to wake them up. Year after year new parsnips grow in my garden. All I must do is provide them with water and a little nutrients.

Parsnips date back to ancient Greek and Roman times and they are related to carrots and parsley. 

The name Parsnip conjures amiability, encouragement, and generosity, and symbolizes life-giving-energy and symbolizes destiny and luck.

As I am observing the garden, I have noticed the deeper life lessons it holds for us. There are simple truths that help us stay grounded, but often the daily stressors of life, like our never ending “to do” list, traffic jams, surprise deadlines at work, have us forget those truths.  We feel rushed, overwhelmed or even lost at times.

Perhaps the garden has an inner wisdom that can help us to return to those truths and become re-grounded. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from spending time in the garden that can move us all in the direction of greater peace and satisfaction.

To be in awe is one of life’s greatest gifts

The garden presents many opportunities for us to be in awe and wonder. How plants, that in January looked brown and dead, emerge just a few months later into growing, colourful specimens of beauty amazes me each year. To closely look at the magnificent architecture of how a single flower is designed is a miracle of nature. To go out each morning and discover new living things that have emerged since the day before is a delight. I feel like a child again wanting to share it with someone. “Look at this, look what I just found, this wasn’t here yesterday”. That experience is energizing. Seeing plants grow and blossom reaffirms our own sense of aliveness.

We have much to be grateful for

Year after year, my garden has brought me joy and a continued sense of appreciation and wonder. Observing the cycle of life allows me to reflect on the past and also the opportunity for planning and hope for the future. However, for me the greatest gift that my garden gives me is the gift of beauty. Beauty uplifts and restores our souls.  It has the power to lift us above our everyday concerns and connect us to something higher, universal, and eternal. 

“Beauty is the affirmation of life. What is more, beauty grounds us in life and in the body. The more we can perceive beauty in our surroundings and also inside us, the more we will feel at home and glad to exist.” ~ Piero Ferrucci.  Perhaps this is the greatest gift of all.

As we are slowly being drawn back by the magnet of our modern man-made rhythms of life, may you take a moment to reflect, be in awe, and reconnect with these or other simple truths of life and regain a peace of mind and a sense of being present… that restores your soul.