Saturday, April 30, 2016

Waiting on the Season

These last days of April, these first days of May, what I most need to cultivate is patience.

The garden’s awake, and something new is stirring every day, if not from hour to hour. The clumps of Tulipa tarda whose buds  I first noticed just this morning had started to open in the sun by early afternoon. Two days ago, I wondered what had happened to the lily-of-the-valley. Today the shoots are coming up everywhere, reminding me they’re an invasive species, and the last thing I have to worry about is that they’d ever die out. I didn’t even remember planting wild ginger by the front walk last year,  until yesterday I saw the leaves an inch above the soil, looking like the wings of a pale green moth still unfolding from the chrysalis.
The longing for new life is almost more than a dedicated gardener can sustain, once the winter is truly over and past. The nearby nursery is already stocked and waiting. I can’t bear the suspense until it’s clearer, two weeks from now, what’s come through, what’s flourished, what didn’t make it and needs replacing. Three years after moving into this house, I still don’t completely understand what will grow in this soil, in this much shade, between the roots of long-established trees. Every season thus far has involved trial and error. My impatience is equal parts eagerness to see what’s in store and a fantasy of what I want to do next with the tiny front and back gardens of a downtown Toronto house. Thank God I don’t have an American Midwestern quarter-acre to contend with.
My unwillingness to wait on the garden around me reminds me of the impatience we’re capable of showing toward the garden within. When I hear friends who long for personal growth berating themselves over their lack of progress, over their loops back into earlier patterns and habits, over their inability to map a clearly defined path forward, my prayer is that they can offer themselves a little more of the lovingkindness I’m confident they'd extend without hesitation to someone else.
Like I should talk--like I’m not equally capable of smacking myself for not becoming an overnight boddhisattva.
Patience in the garden is like the balance of Wisdom and Compassion that we need  in order to thrive, and in order to allow others to thrive.
It’s also like the patience called for in Matthew 13:24-30--the parable of the weeds among the wheat. There, the owner of a field tells his servants not to risk pulling up the crop by mistake before harvest time. The subsequent explanation of that story, ascribed to Jesus by the Gospel writer, reads like a judgmental othering of the people on the wrong side of a moral divide. I’m inclined to think of that exposition, though, as a later addition that obscures, even reverses, the real point. At its core, the parable is a story of the garden of our souls, and we’re cautioned not to fuck up the process of growth and unfolding by trying to exert control. We don’t need answers before the fact. We just need respectful curiosity and the patience to wait--and gratitude when the results manifest themselves in their own time.

1 comment:

  1. Your interpretation of the parable makes a lot more sense to me than the other judgmental one. The farmer told the farmhands to wait. All will be well.