—by Neal Lemery
Spring garden chores bring me into a contemplative mood. I take a fresh look at the garden and the yard, mentally planning out how I want to plant this year. I also get philosophical while I’m mowing the grass, feeling the energy of spring bursting out all over. I am often stunned into silence at the wonder of it all.
I’m reminded of the renewing cycle of life that brings about change. In the garden, I am an instrument of change, and also a witness of ancient ways. Old patterns can be repeated, or altered and made better. Often, the best action is to weed them out.
I am an organizer, a weeder, a planter. Yet the real instruments of change are nature’s: the strengthening sunlight, the occasional rain, seeds sprouting, leaves emerging, flowers bursting into color and brilliance. I do my best work when I take a long time just being the observer.
The Irish poet and priest John O’Donohue writes:
“There is a beautiful complexity of growth within the human soul. In order to glimpse this, it is helpful to visualize the mind as a tower of windows. Sadly, many people remain trapped at the one window, looking out every day at the same scene in the same way. Real growth is experienced when you draw back from that one window, turn, and walk around the inner tower of the soul and see all the different windows that await your gaze. Through these different windows, you can see new vistas of possibility, presence, and creativity. Complacency, habit, and blindness often prevent you from feeling your life. So much depends on the frame of vision — the window through which you look.”
I do better in life when I take advantage of that “other view” and look out into the world with a new vantage point. It is humbling and also refreshing. Old patterns, old thinking can be re-examined. Often, new ideas emerge, and I gain a different perspective. I might even dare to set aside my cherished and deeply-held convictions and opinions, and look at the world in a new way, much like how a contemplative gardener looks at their projects on a bright and sunny spring day. Exploring the alternatives gives us so many more options.
Spring is a time of renewal, of growth, a time to think of the possibilities of the coming summer. I do my best work when I take on the role of the observer, the contemplator, to be a tinkerer of the whole picture, looking on from all of the windows in my soul.