An old friend and I met on the High Street a couple of weeks ago. As we talked he shared the following with me, “Things don’t stay the same forever. I’m on my way to organise the sale of a field and this will give me more time to care for my wife.” I responded that he would miss working with the land and I would be thinking of him as he steps into a new phase of life.
The conversation with him reminded me of an article I’d read in the October edition of the Reader’s Digest. The article was from their archive of July 1955 and was entitled ‘The joyful gardener’ by Agnes Rothery. It was about a lady who attended the funeral of an elderly friend who had been a keen gardener. She wrote, ‘She acknowledged the persistence of life and, as I stood before the work of her hands, I acknowledged it too.’ I won’t spoil the article by recounting it all, but these phrases were thought provoking. ‘Belief in the future which gives quietness of mind’ and ‘Every true gardener is forever a beginner and always confident about the future that lightens the way like a flame’. I am a gardener and I enjoy helping people with no knowledge of gardening set up their gardens successfully. The teaching and planning to achieve their vision can be quite a challenge and not always possible. My joy is to see the expression of their joy as bare ground is planted with various colours and the anticipation of seeing them grow.
I recently helped a friend who has never gardened before and my first question was, “Do you want to do a fill-in for 6 months and wait for the autumn to plant for the future or just wait and get your soil ready?” She chose to wait and 3 days ago we visited the nurseries and chose plants to go alongside those which can be divided and gifted from friends’ gardens. Yesterday we planted up her garden with the plants and I left her with a collection of bulbs still to plant. She was thrilled, and I was a very satisfied non-professional landscape gardener! I believe we need to believe in the future and that it does give quietness of mind. It fills the place that the negatives of life, which often result in depression and anxiety, lack of confidence, anticipating failure and the temptation to give up, could take root and prevents that. We’re all beginners in life because life doesn’t stand still. As we look out of our windows and see autumn colours and stems of plants that bear seeds instead of flowers, we know there has to be a winter before we can enjoy spring and then summer. We not only have to look after ourselves and fill our minds with positives, we need to care for our souls. I like the words of the Prophet Isaiah, ‘The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.’ (Isaiah 58:11)